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“Dragonfly” - Tom A. Smith | Review

If there was an establishing shot of a coming of age movie set in 2022, this would be the swirling drunken cacophony

(all of those words have negative connotations but I mean it in a positive way I’m going to try to rephrase it)

Swirling isn’t quite right, it’s a bit more grungy than the psychedelic trip I was thinking of during the chorus– the beginning gives me washed out, kinda apocalyptic underpass with graffiti as a car blasting this song zooms by, a dirty mask flung outwards - “If i was a bird” reference to forrest gump??? inversion / perversion of childhood nostalgia and movies like fucking forrest gump like what the fuck even is that movie it beat saving private ryan in the oscars (would be a good standup bit for my parents’ generation)

Guitar riff reminiscent of free bird lyrd sky it’s an homage!!!

“Dragonfly” really is setting the tone for Smiths upcoming debut EP out Feb 25th. I think this is a great breath of life for the existing Pop Rock scene. The guitar melds with the synths and bolster a strong grungy vocal. It is a completely refreshing sound and cultivates a true name for Tom in the current indie rock scene. It feels instantly iconic and just fills the space it is playing in.

This is an artist to watch out for in 2022.

Speaking about the new release, Tom said, "Dragonfly is about the dream of wishing I could get away and start again. The feeling that I need to do it soon or I might get stuck in a rut."

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 80s 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.

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 legendary Newcastle venue The Cluny, performed at Glastonbury before he was even in 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 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,” reflects Smith 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.”

Review by Hannah Schneider and Amanda Gallop

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