An assured, controlled debut album...

Tom Walker began his 2019 as the winner of the British Breakthrough Act at the year’s BRIT Awards, and as he drops his debut album ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ it seems his progress is unstoppable.

Across 13 tracks the album is a mix of slow instrumentals and soaring vocals, that make an impact track after track - a collection of previous fan-favourites like ‘ Leave A Light On’ and ‘Just You and I’, as well as many new gems.

Starting off is emotive single ‘Angels’; moving and authentic, it’s the kind of track that catches your attention, and leaves you wanting more. And Walker doesn’t disappoint as he follows up with his previously released smash hit ‘Leave A Light On’.

The first stand-out of the album comes very early on, at number three, with ‘Not Giving In’. An upbeat track, that epitomises the hope and optimism that the album’s message encompasses, ‘Not Giving In’ is made even better by Tom’s brilliant vocals.

The next highlight, however, takes a while to make an appearance as it comes in towards the end with haunting, piano-led ‘Fade Away’. Tracks like ‘How Can You Sleep at Night?’, ‘Now You’re Gone’ which follow and penultimate offering ‘The Show’ unfortunately pale in comparison as it passes you by without notice.

But then comes ‘My Way’; strong in vocals, soundscapes and lyricism, it veers the record back to the path of sonic heaven, that it steered from. ‘Blessings’, from which the album’s title is taken, serves as another reminder of Walker’s heavenly, yet down-to-earth vocals, as it grounds you and simultaneously lets you fly free.

Later, comes ‘Cry Out’, experimenting with soundscapes, as its anthemic beats thump from beginning to carrying you into electronic rhythms of ‘Dominoes’, which while sounding unique, fails to work in tandem with the rest of the production.

The final track of the album, ‘Walk Alone’, featuring Rudimental, elevates the record to a newer, repeat-worthy level, as it uses its inherently hopeful energy to wash away every doubt you’ve had about yourself.

Tom Walker’s debut is a perfect representation of him – cheerful, genuine, heartfelt and talented, and as the final notes of his much-awaited record grace your ears, it definitely seems like it’s a great time to be alive.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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