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Tom Grennan - Lighting Matches (Album Review)

Friday, 13 July 2018 Written by Liam Turner

The guitar-toting singer-songwriter scene has become very crowded of late, with the likes of Ed Sheeran, James Bay and George Ezra all carving out their own patch of commercial radio real estate. Is there room for one more?

Tom Grennan certainly thinks so, and on his debut, 'Lighting Matches’, he’s made a loud, brash, confident statement to back up his point. It's packed with flashy tunes designed for domination of the airwaves - Grennan’s first taste of which came with the 2016 Chase & Status collaboration All Goes Wrong.

A big part of the record’s power comes from Grennan’s voice. It's one that’s drawn many comparisons, but he perhaps most closely resembles Milky Chance’s Clemens Rehbein.

They share a gruff baritone delivery that breathes soul and passion into each line and lick. Backed by horns, strings and keys that bolster every track, the overall result is something quite powerful.

But a captivating voice and instrumental bombast can only get you so far. Like a dog that finally catches its prey, Grennan doesn’t really know what to do once he’s got hold of you. Run in the Rain tries hard to tug the heartstrings as he laments the lack of direction and hope in his life, but it’s let down by a painfully lazy bridge (“Come and save me,” he endlessly repeats). Something in the Water, meanwhile, boasts a Hozier-like instrumental, but it doesn’t really say anything or go anywhere.

There’s nothing here that justifies the record’s lengthy running time, either, as it flicks between feel-good indie-pop and saccharine X-Factor balladry. Grennan has stated that he didn’t really listen to much music when he was younger, and it shows in the record’s lack of diversity.

While there is much to like here, from the alacrity of Royal Highness to the heartfelt melody of the record’s title track, this is ultimately music made for the radio. That’s no bad thing in itself, but Grennan makes no attempt to mix up the formula or to offer up anything other than genial singalongs. There is space for him, but currently only among the most prolific purveyors of vanilla pop.

Tom Grennan Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 09 2018 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Wed October 10 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Northumbria Institute
Thu October 11 2018 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Fri October 12 2018 - MANCHESTER Academy
Sun October 14 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Mon October 15 2018 - SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall Southampton
Tue October 16 2018 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Thu October 18 2018 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Fri October 19 2018 - LEICESTER O2 Academy Leicester
Sat October 20 2018 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Sun October 21 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Tue October 23 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Wed October 24 2018 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Thu October 25 2018 - MARGATE Margate Winter Gardens
Sat October 27 2018 - DUBLIN Academy
Sun October 28 2018 - BELFAST Limelight 2

Click here to compare & buy Tom Grennan Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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