Tommy Sissons EP Review – Etchings


Award-winning spoken word poet Tommy Sissons has teamed up with a handful of Brighton’s busiest performers to create his latest EP, Etchings, which was released at the end of September 2014 on QM Records. Featuring with striking black and white artwork created by local photographer Lauren Joy Kennett, the cover captures the essence of Tommy and his music simply but articulately, demonstrating visually what his lyrics display aurally; working class culture in the south.

 
With smooth guitars from the guys of Normanton Street, drums from former-Maccabees drummer and St. Longplayer producer Robert Dylan Thomas, bass from Time For T‘s Joshua Robert Nicholson Taylor and soaring saxophone melodies from the talented Nick Webb, Tommy has just the right backdrop to showcase his lyrical and vocal abilities with this smooth and well produced EP which has a real Brighton feeling to it, from the seaside soundscapes of seagulls in ‘Early Wakers’ to the lyrical content throughout. 

 
 
Here is my track by track breakdown of Etchings. I hope you enjoy the EP. It available to download for just £2 on bandcamp here. You can stream the tracks to listen to in the player below.

 
1. Early Wakers

Starting with sounds of waves crashing down and distant seagulls, the driving bass opens the track like an alarm clock, before the vocals wake up and come in. The sheer quality of the lyrics is displayed within the first few of lines of the opening track, spoken at an unhurried pace over a continental sounding lazy-morning saxophone and gentle guitars and bass:

“Rise here with the early wakers
The break of sun-pacers
The fry-up creators
And the desperate for caffeine hot coffee makers
Rise with the homeless
Leave home for your purpose”



2. Fish and Chip Paper Headlines

Definitely displaying the influence of Normanton Street in this track, the slow funk-soul groove of drums, bass and guitar provides the backdrop to this track which looks at the expression “Today’s news is tomorrow’s chip shop paper” in a new context to ask if people think that this is justification for wrongdoings, evil deeds and anything they please, and the cost of this philosophy on society.
 
3. My Son

My son is a heart-warming track of a dad (or possibly an unrelated older male figure) giving advice to his boy, using his life experience to tell him how things can be, but telling him to pay heed to his words and not his actions: 

“But pay no attention to me my son
I’m set in my ways
My partisan alignment is to apathy
Make no mention of me my son
Do not waste your days”
 
4. We Are Young

An upbeat track which juxtaposes funk sounds with unapologetically heavyweight youth cultural observations and criticisms. If you are young, you will totally get this and wonder how things went from Pokemon cards and The Simpsons to questionable habits with questionable company in questionable locations. It’s because you are young.
 
5. Possibilities

With more of a hip-hop vibe, this track ditches the common lyrical themes of the genre in lieu of a warming list of things that Tommy would like to do if he had the time, from the simple “cherish awkward conversations with my barber” to the more adventurous “makeshift a boat from twigs and rope and sail the seven seas“. Possibilities is a masterclass of imagination, comprehensively sincere and utterly moving.
Check out the live video of the track for Clockwork Owl below.
 
 
 
6. If You’re Gonna
 
This track is another well thought-out lyrical work, seeking not to justify character flaws and unattractive personality traits, but advising you of the blind spots that they may leave you with, suggesting ways to make them more bearable to yourself, and those around you. 
If you speak make sure it’s worth listening to.”

7. Etchings 

A track about making important life decisions, going against the grain, leaving an imprint on society for future generations through etchings, finding your place in society and finding yourself. So pretty much a track about everything that matters, told in a free-flowing storytelling narrative of Tommy Sissons, against the ambient sounds of his band, as the instrumental coda fades out the EP, until the next one begins.

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