Album Review: The Alphabet Of Hurricanes by Tom McRae
Fairly Good, Based on 5 Critics
The Guardian - 80 Based on rating 4/5
What will it take for Tom McRae to get a break? He's had a Mercury nomination, his songs have featured on TV soundtracks and poet Simon Armitage even rhapsodises about this album on McRae's website, but – commercially, at any rate – he's an also-ran. Never mind, The Alphabet of Hurricanes reinforces his status as one of Britain's better songwriters. Using banjo and mandolin, he's made a beautiful, contemplative record.
If Thom Yorke lost the clever bits and became a straightforward, acoustic guitar-strumming troubadour, he might put out something like The Alphabet of Hurricanes. Tom McRae, whose voice and downcast demeanor both bear some similarities to those of Mr. Radiohead, has been honing his craft long enough to have worked out all the kinks by this point, and his fifth album achieves just the right balance of strong, simple melodies and subtle, idiosyncratic production touches.
You are singer in possession of both an acoustic guitar and a penis. You are therefore both the next Nick Drake and the next Bob Dylan. Tom McRae’s 2000 self-titled debut earned him the inevitable comparisons. While he was never able to live up to such accolades, he created a powerful sound that was all his own.
Tom McRae’s story is an unusual one. After all, the guy didn’t release his first LP until he was 31. After a standout performance at UK’s Meltdown Festival in 2000, McRae quickly became the apple of UK music critics’ eye with his soft, confessional acoustic tunes that garnered comparisons to Nick Drake and perhaps more appropriately, David Gray.
Windswept folk tales of crepuscular meetings, heavy seas and worn-out clothes. Rob Crossan 2010 Sounding like a tired and weary group of circus troupe artists trekking homewards through muddy country lanes at night, Tom McRae’s fifth studio album shows clear signs of having been made by a man suffering from a level of nervous exhaustion – prompted by a ferocious touring schedule over the last three years. But thankfully this record is short on narcissistic self pity and somewhat longer on eloquent, windswept folk tales of crepuscular meetings, heavy seas and worn-out clothes.