Every breakup invites conflict, every conflict requires redemption. For London-based artist Tom Grennan, redemption can manifest as an album. Named after the Hackney street which Grennan once lived upon with an ex, ‘Evering Road’ is a reflection on past mistakes and lessons for the future.
Still basking from the success of his 2018 debut ‘Lightning Matches’, Grennan once again provides chart-pleasing songs that are heavy on signature gravelly vocals and indie/soul instrumentals. Throughout the album, Grennan admits he was toxic in his past relationship and subsequently undergoes a journey of personal redemption to help make sense of a confusing world. Make no mistake, this is no break-up album; this is a love-letter to apologies, redemption, and gratitude.
The album commences with the slightly jazzy and energetic If Only; this is a classic, feel-good confidence-booster. It’s an uplifting song, where gospel melodies complement Grennan’s powerful vocals. Something Better further highlights his vocal range, while also layered with a culmination of guitar riffs and trumpet stabs. With the memorable chart-topper Little Bit of Love, Grennan confronts his bitter feelings and experiments with, what is essentially, a pop song. No wonder it keeps appearing on the radio!
There is a little too much Hozier-ness within the song, which isn’t a strength
Arguably, the strong start is almost enough to help overlook the album’s weaker moments – on Amen, one of the album’s main singles, Grennan repeatedly exclaims “I don’t go to church – but Amen!”. There is a little too much Hozier-ness within the song, which isn’t a strength. Amen is not necessarily bad but it feels too generic at times, which contrasts with the rest of ‘Evering Road’.
Likewise, This is the Place occasionally regresses to emotive yet mediocre indie-pop. It’s no longer 2014, so these songs merely lack flair. However, Grennan’s raw confession on This is the Place is as honest as it gets. An insight into “drinking away the pain” – it is refreshing to see the brutal reality of being hurt. For the most part, it feels real and never falls into the trap of self-pity or toxic thoughts.
The juxtaposition of happiness and sadness within a relationship is portrayed by these gentle yet sorrowful songs
Sandwiched between charisma and confidence, the middle of the album features slower, more personal songs (It Hurts and You Matter to Me) which ultimately remind us of the history behind this album – heartbreak. The piano ballads and soft vocals really contrast with the earlier upbeat energy. The juxtaposition of happiness and sadness within a relationship is portrayed by these gentle yet sorrowful songs. Just like in ‘Lightning Matches’, Grennan once again experiments with his sound and it does work in his favour.
Throughout Make My Mind Up, Grennan’s observational lyricism is clear. It’s difficult not to be captivated by him, who admits – “I don’t know what I want from love” – and voices his worries regarding the unravelling of a doomed relationship. Second Time also differentiates him from many fellow heartbroken singer-songwriters. Indeed, the song could be likened to Lewis Capaldi – albeit Grennan takes a more optimistic approach to heartbreak, claiming: “Hoping that your heart will let you fall in love for a second time,” as if wishing the best for his ex, but also himself.
Oh Please combines soul with smooth strings: it’s enjoyable and introspective (and clearly inspired by Amy Winehouse). Fittingly, Long Live You and I (a bonus track) ends the journey with the same energy it started on. Here, Grennan suggests acceptance and optimism for the future.
‘Evering Road’ is a satisfying album
‘Evering Road’ is a satisfying album. It is self-defined as “the polar-opposite of a breakup album”, and while some tracks are a little underwhelming, the album achieves Grennan’s goal of ownership and optimism. Sometimes the singer does overplay the ‘contemplative, pitiful’ tone, but it never touches narcissistic.
Grennan perfects what he teased in ‘Lightning Matches’ and begins to experiment further: the album balances strings, brass, gospel choirs and majestic flourishes. Fundamentally, this is an album where the artist is in total control, not the fans. Thus, we are left with an enjoyable and incredibly personal experience. There is light after heartbreak, and Grennan encourages us to find and embrace it!
Featured image courtesy of @markheybo via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @tom.grennan via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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