Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 21 September 2020

Following Two Successful Brighton Gigs Teesside-born Tom Joshua Taps Into His Home Town For Inspiration

"I love where I live," says Teesside-born singer-songwriter Tom Joshua. "It's a rousing group of towns to be from – these songs just wouldn't exist away from home."
Credit Jodie Canwell

Arriving on the scene in 2017, not too long ago Tom played both Chalk and The Prince Albert venues in Brighton, as well as touring with artists like Bill Ryder-Jones, Darlingside and Billie Marten. 

But the songs in question are those that make up his debut EP Undergrowth, a love letter to his North East roots, grounded in the surroundings of his hometown, with each track evoking a specific space or memory associated with somewhere never very far from home.

It's an EP about the reality of the everyday, with Tom committing to record tiny fragments of life that are often overlooked, undervalued or forgotten. 

Whether it's lyric writing while walking the dog to the same shops he's visited since he was a boy, or sitting in the carpark of the local Showcase Cinemas complex, the overriding feeling is one of nostalgia, daydreaming and giving the license to simple things to be greater than they appear.

Cinema, the first single from the EP, is a gentle, piano-led introduction; atmospheric in its backdrop with Tom's vocals soaring over the quiet moments of the track.

"Showcase Cinemas at Teesside Retail Park feels like a proper basecamp to me," Tom explains of the inspiration behind the song. 

"It's gone unchanged since I was a kid, so for me it's a place I can go to feel neutral and peaceful."

The rise and fall of the vocal melody in particular echoes these feelings of hush and harmony, seesawing as if to fill up the space between the tenderness of the words and the instrumentation. 

"The lyrics came super quick and easy," he adds, "and it kind of felt like some sort ode to the cinema itself and a thank-you for everything that it is to me, and all that it reminds me of."

Knock on a Hollow contrasts in its vibrant foundations, driven by rhythm and quickly blossoming into anthemic territory alongside Tom's rallying and evocative lyrics. 

It perfectly exhibits his aptitude as a storyteller as the songwriter portrays an anonymous character, living alone in a flat and playing drums while contemplating life in the simple release of banging on something hollow. 

Likewise, title track Undergrowth, with its buoyant pop harmonies, illustrates a very specific and individual narrative, having been inspired by a vivid dream-sequence and conceived while out walking his dog.

On This Still Life, a track which clearly showcases Tom's mastery of melody and arrangement, there's a similar throwback pop feel. 

The chord progression is matched in beauty by his soft yet rich vocal and the imagery instantly conjured by his writing. 

Speaking of the track, Tom explains: 

"There's an alleyway behind the kitchen I work in and 'This Still Life' is rooted there. 

"It is a place to go when it's too hot or there's no orders. 

"The sun always hits it good and its a regular escape. It gives you a chance to breathe in and think your thoughts out I wanted to capture that feeling of needing to be inspired and craving space." 

There's an innate warmth to Tom's writing that makes you feel like you are part of the story; a part of his world and welcome no matter what.

Undergrowth is out on 9th October 2020 via Believe Music. For more info CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley

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