Tom James is a rarity. At just 22 years of age, he’s already developed the virtuoso acoustic guitar chops and mature song writing skills of someone 20 years his senior. Dropping jaws on stages at the prestigious Pret a Diner in both London and Berlin, touring two summers of major British festivals, performing stage-front at Holland’s Surfana festival, and even touring successfully off the back of his first EP, 2011’s Green & White, he’s accomplished an astounding amount in a very short period of time.
2014 adds yet another chapter to his career with his latest release - via Indie Kitchen Records - the cerebral and emotive Blood to Gold EP. Comprised of 5 songs that showcase Tom’s exceptional talent at the forefront of the organic textures and varied dynamics of his band, the EP is a master class in proving what it takes to stand out in the oversaturated climate of UK acoustic singer/songwriters.
Hailing from Falmouth in Cornwall, Tom was taught the ins and outs of guitar by finger-style expert Andy McKee. Learning to play using unique methods that stray from simple strummed chords, he began to both utilise the instrument percussively on his lap and finger pick it with complex arpeggios. These styles lend themselves to the bulk of Blood to Gold, and are just as awe-inspiring on the EP as they are live.
Kicking off, the title track is built from trickling harmonics and raw vocals, setting the mood for the rest of the release. “Apart from being the title track, it’s appropriate that Blood to Gold is the first song of the new EP, as it’s usually our opener. It allows us to demonstrate the dynamics of the band; it’s a bit of a crowd favorite” Tom explains.
Onwards, the EP flows through the lyrical depth of ‘Layers’, which Tom describes as being about two sides of one person (“one is that person’s potential-self and the other is what the person really is”). Following that is ‘Bloom’ which exhibits a variety of carefully thought-out drum beats and guitar tones. But variety is the key to the whole EP, as ‘Gentle Man’ proves with a buoyant pulse and textural cello, then ‘Red Flare, White Grain’ closes on a cathartic finale of ascending vocal melodies and rhythms that continuously build to completion.
“Red Flare is one of the oldest tracks and we weren’t originally going to put it on the EP, but we still love the song so much; we didn’t want to leave it off. It’s one of my personal favorites. We tried to make this version a kind of six minute epic to end the EP with a crescendo.” says Tom.
The emphatic release of his EP Green & White in August 2011 saw Tom play a string of UK shows, from Cornwall to Southampton, capturing the eyes and ears of those in attendance and swiftly converting them into dedicated fans. Support slots with Brother & Bones followed, along with various festival bookings (Larmer Tree, Eden Sessions, Sidmouth Fringe, Somersault and Boardmasters).
Tom takes a further step forward at the official Blood to Gold EP launch, which will take place at The Islington in London on Monday 13th October. It arrives as the culmination of Tom’s hard work for the past year, and will no doubt result in further successes for the Falmouth sensation, as he looks forward to touring the EP with his multi-talented band and gaining legions of new fans in the near future.
Tickets for the Islington Launch, Vinyl and EPs can be pre-ordered from Tom’s Music Glue page: https://www.musicglue.com/tom-james. Blood to Gold can be pre-ordered via iTunes.
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