Manchester-born Tommy Newport has been making waves since he landed with his debut single ‘I Forgive You’, three years ago. Then just 18 years old, the single showed just how much promise this singer-songwriter had as an artist. Now Tommy returns with his introspective single ‘Vanilla & Light’, where the lyricist depicts the internalized thoughts of someone struggling day to day. It’s a moment where we see the artist maturing, inspired by a will to portray a message and to bring joy to those battling mental health demons. ‘Vanilla & Light’ shows a more tender and emotional side to Newport’s artistry.
Over the years, Tommy has carved a sound heavily influenced by the likes of 90s Britpop, modern blues, or soft and classic rock, although you’ll be hard pressed to find much of that on ‘Vanilla & Light’. Showcasing his ever-growing versatility, this single see’s the artist venture in a new direction, with production that is led by a sweet melody, with a steady, slow-paced drumbeat. Accompanied by a pacey guitar lick and falsetto vocals uniting over a clean palette of sounds.
This fresh sound was the result of a new approach to song writing, as the artist describes: “I wanted to take a traditional songwriter approach lately to my music, rather than focusing on telling a simple story on top of a very big instrumentation I wanted to tell a big story on instrumentation that was directly meant for it. This is all part of my maturing as an artist, I jumped into this world of music with no clue where to start how everything works no rules, only the chance to emulate and be inspired, I’ve learned so much in the last few years and I think recently I’ve been inspired by myself and it came from within rather than striving to be my influences.”
Tommy looked to songwriters from the 60s and 70s for inspiration, where the focus was on “telling stories, rather than trying to convey an emotion.” This lyrically led approach created a truly personal song that tackles issues many can relate to. Themes of mental health are the focus, specifically putting a spotlight on somebody who thinks they’re conventional, boring and unexciting in their own mind, only to have that spotlight show everyone else around them and themselves that they are not mediocre or ordinary and that nobody is. It’s a song about empowering those that often succumb to the issues of self-doubt.
On the songs message, the artist explains: “I think it’s important we all address the issues of the world in our art without using it as a relatable common ground, It’s a song at the end of the day and there’s a fine line. If someone listens to ‘Vanilla & Light’ and it helps them in any shape or form with anything that’s all that I wanted. The story and the lyrics come from my struggles and I hope they help people feel less alone. And if you’re struggling with mental health, please put yourself out there and take the steps to heal.”
‘Vanilla & Light’ is the culmination of an artist who burst onto the scene with immediate success but has now found their feet and clearly comfortable in their place as a musician. His debut single ‘I Forgive You’ has been played millions of times across the world and in many ways set an immediate bar that Tommy had to reach with every release thereafter. As he describes himself: “It was a big moment I don’t think any of us had any idea what to expect and we could only hope that what we followed up with caught the same response. I think if you listen to all the singles from my first album you’ll see how many ideas and directions I wanted to go, and that’s went from trying to find my sound, to what’s a sound?”
With plenty more music set for release later this year, whilst simultaneously working on his next album, Tommy is driven by his artistry, which may very well be the key to his long-term success. ‘Vanilla & Light’ shows us an artist totally unrestrained creatively and with endless potential, making us wonder what’s next? Well, as Tommy states defiantly, good luck guessing.
“If a Tommy Newport single or project is coming out good luck with your premonitions. I’m a sponge and no song will be similar to another. There’s nothing wrong with that either, my favourite bands capture a sound and run with it album after album and it works. But I listen to so much music in the streaming era and there’s so many different styles I want to make and have a shot at.”
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Words: Jake Wright
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