Tom McRae - The Alphabet of Hurricanes
Banjo, ukulele, mandolin and piano play a starring role in Tom McRae’s fifth album, Alphabet of Hurricanes. McRae has moved away from the more commercial angle of his previous album, King of Cards, and has produced a beautifully crafted piece of work reminiscent of his self titled debut and its follow up, Just Like Blood. As a result, it's a very, very pleasing return to form.
Opener, ‘Still Love You’, with its banjo and piano backing, draws you in to McRae’s world and it is a place you can happily lose yourself in. Clarinet-led instrumental ‘A is For..’ leads in to the gypsy rhythms of ‘Won’t Lie’, a gloriously joyous waltz the will get even the most hardened cynic onside. ‘Summer of John Wayne’, the haunting ‘American Spirit’ and the doom laden ‘Out of The Walls’ provide examples of McRae’s skill at producing beautifully down beat ballads, but to counterpoint this there are the more upbeat toe tappers such as lead off single ‘Please’ and the happy-clapping road trip of album highlight ’Me & Stetson’. The gently rolling ’Fifteen Miles Down River’ seems to represent McRae’s career journey so far and is a perfect ending to such a richly rewarding album
Why the record buying public are more interested in the bland stylings of James Blunt and his ilk is an absolute mystery. Tom McRae has more emotion and song writing skill than Blunty ever will and he fully deserves to be selling albums by the bucket load. Until that day comes, those with a more refined sense of the singer-songwriter’s art can revel in The Alphabet of Hurricanes and hope that its joys and pleasures can be spread to the wider audience it richly deserves.