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Tom Williams and the Boat – Teenage Blood

20 April 2012, 08:56 Written by

Coming from the same school of wholesome as Frank Turner, but without the over-earnest approach, Tom Williams and the Boat release their second album, marking a deft move away from their first, and a more liberal embrace of a rustic folk-pop sound, whilst exploring the darker side of adolescence and early adulthood.

Opening with a jangling, high-energy title track, Williams’ vocal delivery instantly emerges as one of the defining features of the album, with its menace, the hint of a gravelly texture that will no doubt progress over time, and a suggestion of sagacity beyond his young years.

Moody lamenting guitars, sawing violin, and subtle drums highlight the shift in focus away from their debut’s anthemic live favourites to a more narrative style, from the shady characters of ‘Little Bit of Me’ to the melancholy of ‘Neckbrace’.

Funded by fans through Pledge Music, there’s no radio-friendly e-numbers artificially inserted into this recipe – but they do naturally occur. Musically Tom Williams and the Boat still very much occupy the acceptable, family-suitable, Radio 2 space along with others of the nu-folk, antifolk persuasion. Their Americana-tinged strings, chugging guitars, occupation of the mid-tempo range is rarely deviated from across the album. As mentioned earlier, it’s the lyrics that really set the band apart, casting aside the whimsy of their first album (there are certainly no songs about the M25 on Teenage Blood), in favour of an exploration of more abstract emotions (‘Trouble with the Truth’) as well as folkloric tales like ‘Emily’.

Whilst moods rise and fall throughout Teenage Blood, there’s a feel of it as one piece of work. ‘There’s A Stranger’ is the only acoustic track on the album, and acts as an introduction to its final act. Heartfelt to the point of heartbreaking, this brief, delicate interlude leads into penultimate track ‘Summer Drive’ which continues the wistful, longing theme with the addition of female vocals on the chorus and a pining violin. ‘Emily’ makes for a poignant and thoughtful end to Teenage Blood, highlighting the fact that there is more to uncover on this album with each listen, as Tom Williams and the Boat move into a more grown-up, mature territory.

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