I discovered the band Tom Williams and the Boat last September in a little venue in London called the Boogaloo. A few months later, they are about to release their debut album “Too Slow”. Things have changed for the band as they started getting noticed by mainstream radios. So, as soon as the album was available for download, I logically hurried myself to listen to their songs. What I heard was delighting, surprising and so worth the wait.
The opus opens on the song 24, which features the band’s signature sound°: crisp electric guitars with subtle solo parts, Geri’s melancholic violin and of course Tom’s voice, clear and warm yet feisty, filling up the space like few others. Then follows Concentrate. Tom Williams sings on the verse like he often does, with almost only the sound of the drums before the rest of the band comes back into the fold with fury.
90mph has been my favorite song since I’ve discovered them. As the title indicates, the pace is frantic and this catchy song is highlighted by the remarkable saxophone solo played by the sweet and talented Geri. The engaging melodies the band unveils are in deep contrasts with the subjects Tom sings about, like failures or broken destiny like in this song.
After a dark Get Older backed with a plain and massive bass guitar, it is to time to hear the title track of the album, Too Slow. It starts like a casual plaintive ballad with a solemn chorus. Slow things are picking up, yet they are well on their way, sings Tom and all of a sudden, the whole track catches fire with aggressive guitars and especially a harmonica that comes from nowhere imitating a crazy locomotive. After a short stop, the band resumes its frenzied race to punctuate a fantastic song.
On Wouldn’t women be sweet, once again the sweet and innocent melody is kilometers away from the meaning of Tom’s dark lyrics, this time dealing with a maniac girl who locks up her boyfriend for 33 nights ! This is the type of song Tom Williams and the boat have excelled playing over the years, particularly thanks to Tom whose voice more than often does marvels.
The second part of the album also shows some darker melodies, less obvious at first but they still insinuate into our heads on Strong wheels and See my evil. On See my evil, Tom picks up his Telecaster guitar for once and instantly his voice becomes more threatening, the bass is very thick and pulsating. The key moment is loudly heard when a guitar literally tears up the sound spectrum and leads the charge for a very crazy finish.
Voicemail sees the band return to its folk and melodic sound, at the beginning at least as a final sequence closes the album in a really unexpected way. After a rather classic start, the drums manned masterfully by David Trevillion and the violin get the momentum going until the point of no return where each member throws everything that’s left in his instrument. What’s so breathtaking is the sound of desperation created by the brutal guitar lashing and Geri’s incredibly sad violin part. This intense flood of feelings and notes puts a thrilling end to the album and only asks now to be seen and heard in concert.
Too Slow is a brilliant album, well executed. It is remarkable in its sound unity, particularly the guitars, which proves that the band has found its own identity despite recording this cd over a fairly long period of time. Tom’s voice is of course the focal point of the album which features also a lot of melodic surprises. There is a great balance between the slow and intimate moments and the fast-paced songs. Too Slow is a terrific debut album that should firmly establish the band in the British musical landscape.
Tom Williams and the Boat is :
Tom – vocal, guitar and harmonica
Geri – violon, saxophone
Chris – piano
Josh – bass
David – drums