After enormous support for his initial offerings’Wolves‘ and ‘Dragonfly‘, 17-year-old Sunderland newcomer Tom A. Smith has now released his incredible debut EP titled ‘EP 1’, alongside the breezy new single ‘Boltcutters’.
Produced by Larry Hibbitt (Nothing But Thieves/The Snuts/Sea Girls/Lauran Hibberd), ‘EP1’ sets to serve as a bold and vibrant introduction to his sound so far. Despite performing live for several years, including at Glastonbury and Kendall Calling, these songs are the result of tireless hours spent on the road, and offer a broader sense of the artist he has been molded into.
Showcased by the new lead single ‘Boltcutters’, this new offering is one of the more humbled moments on the new collection. Stripping back much of his usually raw and anthemic indie-rock aesthetic in exchange for a breezy solo guitar, Smith swoons his way through his latest effort, and offers up a more dynamic side to his impactful persona.
Speaking about ‘Boltcutters’, he said, “It came from an idea about not wanting to fall for someone and them using all their powers for it to work. A bit of fun compared to the heavy stuff. Love playing it live as I have people singing it back already.”
When Covid hit at the start of 2020, Smith spent lockdown honing his craft and writing songs constantly. He set himself a challenge of writing a song a day, in as many styles and genres as he could think of. When restrictions eased and he went into the studio with Nothing But Thieves/The Snuts/Sea Girls producer Larry Hibbitt to record his debut EP, the challenge wasn’t coming up with great songs to lay down, it was trying to pick which great songs to include.
“It was a tough one,” Smith says of the process of whittling that wealth of material down to just five songs. “I wanted it to be a statement. It shows the versatility of what I’ve done and demonstrates the different styles that I can do.”
Smith sings, writes and performs everything here and his emergence as a livewire musical polymath is astounding. Debut single ‘Wolves’ is a twisted, anthemic rush of indie rock magnificence. Led by Smith’s raw-throated vocals, it channels the spirit of 80’s heroes New Order, The Cure and Echo And the Bunnymen; reinventing and reimagining those skyscraping sounds for a new century and a new emotional landscape. It’s a sound he delves even deeper into on the dense, shadowy snarl of ‘Dragonfly’, a pounding, electrifying plea for escape and transcendence you can imagine causing thousands of camera phone lights to be lifted aloft. ‘Convince Yourself’, meanwhile, is a slow-stalking hit of electrified 21st Century blues. Led Zeppelin via Arctic Monkeys, its gigantic riffs and blood-raw emotions hitting you through a filter of fuzztone digital growls.
The last two tracks on the EP, ‘Boltcutters’ and ‘Crucify Me’ however, show another side of Smith entirely. ‘Boltcutters’ is a love song to rank alongside anything Smith may have covered in the past. Stripped back to the bone, it can turn your heart into butter with little more than Smith’s lilting melody and deft fingerpicking. Ending the EP, ‘Crucify Me’ shows the folkie side of Smith, his quivering vocals and curls of acoustic guitar play intimately off one another before cello and mandolins sprout up around him and carry the song off over the horizon. Unbelievably, it’s actually the demo version he recorded himself at home.
Speaking about his impending debut EP release Tom says, “I’m so excited for people to hear the ep They started as demos in my bedroom during lockdown and to hear them sound so massive now is unbelievable. What I love is that each song is so different, but you know it’s me from the first word.”
EP track listing
Having already played a ton of gigs since the release of ‘Wolves’ and ‘Dragonfly’ including supporting; Courteeners, Martha Hill, Vistas, Blondes, The Pale White, Eliza and The Bear and most recently Hoxton Colors for Good Karma Club compered by Abby McCarthy, Tom A. Smith has also announced a string of live dates for the forthcoming year, including shows at Neighborhood Weekender and Liverpool Sound City. See below for the full list of performances confirmed so far.
Tom A. Smith Live Dates:
Neighborhood Weekender – 28 May 2022
Liverpool Sound City – 30th April – 1st of May 2022
Sonic Wave – 4th June 2022
Rock For People – 15th June – 18th June 2022
Despite being only 17-years-old, Sunderland-based newcomer Tom A. Smith has already achieved more than most artists do in a lifetime. He played his first ever gig aged just eight, supporting local psychedelic rockers Detroit Social Club at the legendary Newcastle venue The Cluny, performed at Glastonbury before he was even at secondary school, and Tim Burgess handpicked him to play his stage at Kendal Calling, making him the festival’s youngest ever performer. He has played live with local hero Sam Fender and Catfish & The Bottlemen, as well as supported other Northern acts on the rise like The Lathums and The Mysterines.
Tom A. Smith’s self-uploaded performances have won him fans amongst rock and roll royalty. The week David Bowie passed, Bowie’s widow Iman shared Smith’s cover of Bowie’s Lazarus online, commenting on the emotional impact of Smith’s rendition. Blossoms recognised him from one of his videos as he was watching them from the crowd and invited him backstage, while Morrissey – not a man known to lavish praise or endorsements on others – played Smith’s cover of Please Please Let Me Get What I Want as his walk on music on a recent US tour. Nile Rogers, James frontman Tim Booth, indie legends The Coral, and many more besides have shared footage of his performances across the globe.
“It’s never normal. Every single time it happens it’s surreal,” Smith reflects on the countless pinch-me moments of his career so far. “Music is always what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with it. I asked for guitar lessons when I was four. It’s all I’ve ever known.”
Having achieved so much so soon you might think Smith would be content to rest on his laurels a bit. Been there, done that sort of thing; fire up the PS4 and tell your mates about that time you played Glastonbury. All his achievements so far have done though is to stoke Smith’s creative fire and make him want to achieve more as an artist, a performer and a songwriter.
Tom A. Smith’s debut EP ‘EP 1’ is out now.