The hype surrounding Tom Misch has been bubbling for some time and the South London born singer/songwriter has created much anticipation for his debut album “Geography”.
I admit I was one of those eagerly waiting for it to drop having been playing his tracks for some time before the release. I have enjoyed the whole vibe that Misch exudes with his jazzy guitar summer time atmosphereic soulful music. His voice isn’t spectacular but there is something about the tone that I find so damn relexing and this album is certainly one to chill to.
At times the album can perhaps get a little monotonous as the vibe tends to stay the same but there are a few tracks that are easy to keep going back to with their catchy hooks and soothing tones.
The opening track “Before Paris” is a showcase of his beat making and guitar playing. The song serves as a nice 2:30m foundation of the album you are going to get and sets the scene perfectly.
We move into “Lost In Paris” which is such a brilliant track and one of the best I have heard so far in 2018. From the guitar rift to the easy to sing along lyrics. The melody is so damn infectious and the rap from Goldlink doesn’t sound out of place one bit. This is Misch at his best and what draws people to his music.
“South Of The River” is a song that has been around for quite a while and is what first drew my attention to Misch. The funky bassline will always be a winner for me as i’m a sucker for a bassline but the whole track works perfectly (despite my football allegiances not being from south of the river!).
I love how London this track is. There is a certain sound I have heard over the years from London based artists and I hear it on this track. It’s hard to describe and it is not just because he is talking about South of the River Thames but there is something about the spirit of such songs and this certainly has it. Some superb instrumental moments on this song too which shouldn’t be missed.
“Movie” slows thing down to a sexy soulful jam. This song shows the more sultry side to the production and lyrics. As smooth as you are going to find musically this song sees Misch turn soul man in a song about longing and regret with a sentimental air about it’s lyrics and general atmosphere.
Whilst I do this track isn’t particular exciting and loses it’s charm just after the half way mark it still remains an important sector to “Geography” as it displays where Misch is happy to venture to when seeking something more than a funky bassline and catchy hooks.
“Tick Tock” is an instrumental that builds up slowly into a blast of funky instrumentation. The track has that live feel that Misch has clearly wanted to create on this album. I like this song to a point but can’t help but think that at over 4 minutes it’s a little indulgent. For me it should have served as a short interlude or even the album’s opener as a sort of welcome to Tom Misch as it includes the same instrumentation that we have already heard.
The next song is the most rounded track on the album “It Runs Through Me”. This doesn’t sound as free and skeletal as some of the other tracks and is much fuller in it’s structure.
“It Runs Through Me” is one of the earliest album cuts I heard and whilst I thought it was a pretty track I never really had it down as a memorable song yet it remained with me for sometime and the earworm would not abate.
Legendary rap trio De La Soul make a surprising but welcome guest spot with some bars that really take the song to another level without taking away from the sound and tone which has been created up to this point.
“Isn’t She Lovely” is an instrumental cover of the Stevie Wonder standard. I am not sure this belonged on the album and sounds like Misch was just messing about in the studio and showing off his clearly proficient guitar playing.
On track 8 things come together in a more cohesive fashion with “Disco Yes”. This is a funky disco frenzy right out of the Nile Rodgers playbook. I love the way Misch sounds on this song and this is not to say he does anything particular fancy with his vocal as he is quite an average one tone vocalist but he works this really well.
Misch is joined by female vocalist Poppy Ajudha and her jazzy soulful tones really adds to this brilliantly constructed track. I really love this song despite it not exactly re-inventing the wheel but even it’s little ode to Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” doesn’t take away from it’s fresh and clean sounding brilliance.
“Man Like You” is the most poignant song on the project. It’s simple acoustic guitar sees Misch essentially tell a retrospective tale about growing up and how things at one point in his life were calm and you could dream. You could even stand still if you wanted to and let the world rush by around you but at some point we get lost and swallowed up by life itself, sometimes without even realising it.
The majority of the track ends up being a simple instrumental with some strings brought into it to give it a more dramatic finale.
“Water Baby” is the real gem of ‘Geography”. It uses a sample from “My Lady” by The Crusaders from their album “Street Life” released in 1979. (You’ll need to go 02:29m to hear it).
The song starts with Misch singing but then is taken over by British Rapper Loyle Carner.
I mentioned earlier just how much I enjoy the ‘London sound’ on this album and this track perfectly sums up the feeling that is create. The rap from Carner is perhaps a little raw but I enjoy it nevertheless.
This track is perfectly produced and again Misch uses his vocal to expert effect. He knows his limitations but still finds ways to flow over his track. He is at one with his music and voice. Really enjoyable track this.
“You’re On My Mind” is pleasant but whilst I wouldn’t call it straight up boring it is veering towards that territory.
The penultimate track “Cos I Love You” ventures back towards disco and the funky instrumental. This does sound like one of those latter album filler tracks. Like a number of songs on this set they are difficult to say you vehemently dislike because they are solid songs but when you get some more creative sounding and richer sounding songs like “Lost In Paris” or “Runs Right Through Me” a track like “Cos I Love You” just seems a bit weak.
“Geography” closes out with “We’ve Come So Far”. The song title is repeated numerous times over a mid tempo beat which sets a moment for Misch that he has come a long way to make it in the industry. I get a sense this entire album is just a taster of what is to come from an artist I think is showing as much potential as anyone in the British music scene at the moment.
This is a solid debut from Tom Misch and whilst not perfect by any means it does seem as though he is finding his feet and I suspect many of these songs were from a few years ago which might explain why some sound fully formed and others a bit skeletal.
His obvious talent with the guitar will open up many avenues for him and the mix of funk, disco and hip hop I hope is something he continues to take forward.