Freitag, 19. Februar 2016

EP Review & Interview: Thom Morecroft - Hand Me Down. Charming narrations, briskly buoyant music and an alluringly husky voice

Hesitant at first, subtle and somehow shy, soon warm, inviting and radiant. A smile. Evoked, conjured, raised  by music, by the sound of something familiar and yet so exciting; melodies bringing back memories and creating new ones, bright and shiny, soft and comforting; words reaching out to heart and soul, lyrics inspire, haunt and hit home; vocals enchant and stir, carry away so effortlessly. A smile, emotions, pure and genuine - all brought into being by what is nothing but emotion itself: music, tones and syllables arranged, conceived and pronounced for what tales and sentiments rise from an artist's mind, an offspring of his thoughts and feelings, of his experiences and imagination, tempting the listener to indulge, to empathise ... to smile

With his soothing voice and remarkably raspy timbre, with intelligent and imaginative storytelling, Thom Morecroft sure knows how to raise a smile and caress one's hearing. The debonair and cheery songsmith from shrewsbury crafts beautifully engaging and charmingly witty compositions of invitingly melodious tonal nature; and his latest offering, 'Hand Me Down' is one to enchant its audience at all levels, acoustically and lyrically.

EP artwork (courtesy of James Kirkham)

Presenting four songs, the EP shines in vibrant and warm musical colours, exhales darling and brisk narratives. With both a feel of levity and keen authenticity, rhythmic guitar play and haunting vocal tales introduce 'Coming Up For Air' to the listener, a brief but all the more atmospheric opener, followed by one of Mr. Morecroft's finest musical musings to date, 'Daisy' - subtly passionate, hypnotically lugubrious and oh so powerful in narrational style. Wonderfully light and blissfully bright, in contrast, 'Pride Hill' reveals emotionally gripping melancholia only in its tender vocals, dolorous honesty in its lyrical diction.  With delightfully juvenile melodic buoyancy and husky vocal melodiousness, closing track 'What Are The Chances That You're Shorter Than Me' completes the  4-track compilation on a high note for the listener and leaves him not only with a comfortably warm feeling inside, but also with a joyous smile playing on his lips, while humming along to the vividly harmonious sound the singer/songwriter shares with him. 'Hand Me Down' - truly and in its entirety - proves to be a wonderful homage to dainty and intellectually bracing folk music you should get around listening to by all means!


Reach out & listen to Thom Morecroft on ... 

.. twitter ... 
.. facebook ...
.. his official website ...
.. soundcloud ...

Catch the liverpool-based singer/songwriter live on tour in the UK. Dates to be announced soon. 

Buy Thom Morecroft's new EP 'Hand Me Down' as physical copy at his upcoming gigs or download it as digital version here.

carpe carmina is delighted whenever artists take time for a little chat. And as a loyal contributor to and welcome guest on this very blog (we sure all remember his wonderful take on Ali Ingle's song 'Something About Jorj' for carpe carmina's 2nd anniversary), Thom Morecroft answered a few questions about his crowd-funded EP 'Hand Me Down', about the process of writing and about his touring plans.

01. Sometimes artists choose the title of their EP by naming it after a song featured on it. You obviously didn't with your recent release. So, what is the story behind the EP's title and why does it suit the collection of songs on it?

The guy behind the artwork for release and IXIOD is James Kirkham. One of the fantastic things about James is that every project he works on has to mean something; it has to be connected in some way to everything else. Coming up with the design was involved him coming round my flat, to find out about me; looking at my bookshelves, asking questions. Here was Dr. IXIOD’s diagnosis; I had a bit of penchant for old things. Not because they were ‘vintage’, but because of what I associated with them, and because of what use they were. Then he decided the tracks were all little stories about hanging onto the past a little. Even the last track had a whiff of nostalgia about it; was a little scruffy, a little playful and a little childish. During one of our conversations I mentioned that I wanted the EP to look a bit hand-me-down. And that logically led onto that.

02. The press release of 'Hand Me Down' gives away that all 4 songs tell a story on their own, embodying the idea of why the past is of interest in the present still. Can you elaborate this a little for each song and tell why this concept has been chosen for your new release?

I tend to remember certain things quite well. I can recall things; tiny aspects of conversations from my childhood that family members are totally mesmerised that I can. For some people, me being one of them, there are particular events that leave a little tattoo on us. I didn’t decide before I recorded the songs that this was going to be the concept; it just became apparent in conversation with JK. The opening track, ‘Coming Up For Air’, is a song about members of my family; their little stories and their imprint on me. The concept of one family member’s inter-war break is taken from the George Orwell novel of the same name. The second track, ‘Daisy’ is about not letting go of (and not doing much about) a romantic infatuation. The third, ‘Pride Hill’, tells part of a story about a friend I grew up with in Shrewsbury, and a little bit of how that slightly unique friendship weathered over the years. The last tune ‘What Are The Chances that You’re Shorter Than Me’ is a bit less haunted; it’s just a quick little song about a chance meeting in my student days. I was set up by a housemate on the basis that she felt me and the lady in question were of corresponding heights. 

03. You have a re-recorded version of 'Daisy' on your new EP. What made you choose an old song of yours to complement those three new songs? 

I loved the old version, but I always wanted that song to be a little sparer and a little darker. I knew I wanted this EP to be my carry-around statement, and I knew people who saw me for the first time who’d come over to buy a CD would be disappointed if 'Daisy' wasn’t on it. It’s a real, stuck-in-the-past blues – it seemed to fit perfectly with the other three songs.

04. Crowd-funding a record sure is an overwhelming experience, with good and bad sides to it. Did you face any difficulties in the process of it, are there any recommendations you have for other indie musicians who play with the idea of crowd-funding, and would you consider to run such project again for future releases?

I found crowd-funding a bit of a roller-coaster experience. I would talk to my friend Dan Astles (a fantastic musician) about it, saying “I’ve got to 37%, it’s not gonna move now, that ends it.” And I’d be certain. Then it would move again. And then it would be stuck on 67%. “That’s it now, it’s not going to move.” I think Dan got quite tickled by this by the fourth week… I was pretty overwhelmed that people helped out in quite the way they did. Possibly the nicest thing about it was that it reconnected me to people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Sometimes people I’d met at a gig once, that I expected nothing from, came back to me with the greatest level of generosity. It will be a long while before I consider running such a project again; I feel I owe it to those who pledged to use the profits from this EP to fund future releases.

Contemplative & creative (photo courtesy of Brian Roberts Images)

05. Your way of writing shows that you fully embrace the role of a storyteller. So, carpe carmina was wondering whether the EP title alludes to it (as 'handing down something' can be read as passing on stories) or not, and moreover is interested to learn how you approach songwriting, how songwriting did work for you with this EP in particular?

That’s definitely something me and James Kirkham thought was interesting about each song; that it was a little story from the past, and it’s definitely how I look at songwriting. I was read narrative poetry as a kid, and my idea of a song being a poem or a story set to music is pretty strong. These songs are from different periods; 'Pride Hill' being the newest, whilst 'Daisy' was written about five years ago on a piano. What ended up being on the EP was shaped by what felt good to record with John Mac at the time. 

photo courtesy of Brian Roberts Images

06. Though usually relying on your distinctive voice and on acoustic guitar play only, you included percussion elements on your EP, precisely added the sound of a djembe to opening track 'Coming Up For Air', and had Thomas McConnell involved on bass guitar for 'Daisy'. Are there any other instruments you would like to try out for future releases, or do you even have musicians in mind you would like to collaborate with when working on new songs?

I’d like to record more of my piano songs; and when I am more in the position to I would love to record a few songs with a full band. At the moment, keeping things very basic and stripped back works for me. There may well be a piano song on the new EP though…

07. Tell us a little more about the EP launch (e.g. who is joining you on stage, backing your sound when performing songs from 'Hand Me Down'? Do you have any supporting artists at your EP launch? Do you intend to play songs from your previous records too, as an encore for instance?) as well as about the tour you planned to promote your EP 'Hand Me Down' (what cities will you be playing at? Will there be any artists accompanying you on tour? Have you got merchandise to sell?)

Opening for me on the night of the 27th of January at Gustav Adolfs Kyrka (The Scandinavian Church) were local Liverpool aces Charlie Mckeon and Hannah Kewn. I played entirely solo, aside from a couple of on-stage surprises – joined once by Daniel Astles for a song we wrote together, and also by Elle Schillereff for a song I wrote for her a few years ago. The record was only four songs, so there was plenty of room for me to play other songs. There was also an in-store performance in my other hometown, where I grew up – Shrewsbury, taking place at Cave Records on the 30th of January. Throughout February, I will be bouncing around from city to city from open mic to open mic. Then I’ll be back playing in Liverpool on the 27th of February for Lost Inhibitions Vol. 1 at Constellations.

photo courtesy of Brian Roberts Images

08. Is there a music video planned for one of the new songs (potentially using edited material of your yet to come touring experience)?

I’m currently planning a video for 'Coming Up For Air', but can’t say too much about it at the moment – it’ll be a scratchy lyric video, hopefully worked on with James Kirkham. I’d love to work with my friends Dominic Brooks and Matthew Lee again for a couple of things as well – Dominic’s great at coming up with things that are quite lo-fi and seemingly spontaneous – those are the kind of videos I like really. They worked on the 'On All Night' video and I enjoyed the process of that a lot. I don’t really like the idea of a music video being some giant cinematic spectacle that costs thousands of pounds – just as well given my budget!

09. As a creative songwriter and storyteller, what is it in someone else's writing that makes you interested in reading it? Take carpe carmina, for instance, is there something about its writing or approach to reviewing you appreciate especially?

Your enthusiasm to locate as many colourful adjectives as possible is what keeps me coming back for more! (ha, as a lover of lingustics, that's sure something I aim at, though I also try to paint the most vivid picture of a song possible, with my words and writing)

Thanks for the interview, Thom :)

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