Review: Tom Williams & The Boat – ‘Easy Fantastic’


Just as the sun is doing its best to warm our chilled bones, Tom Williams & The Boat are set to provide us with some heart-warming folk-rock when third album ‘Easy Fantastic’ is released on May 19th.

The album was recorded in collaboration with producer Ian Grimble at Abbey Road, and funded entirely through Pledge Music.

This innovative method of crowd-funding allows ‘pledgers’ to see exclusive content such as acoustic performances from Williams, stay updated with tour information and get a first-look at material from ‘Easy Fantastic’ before general release.

That may appear fairly customary, but as well as these conventional advantages to pledging, one-off payments can be made for more intimate and/or downright bizarre liaisons with the band, including anything from a private performance at a house party to joining them for an afternoon of beer-brewing, or paying to have the whole group shave their facial hair and post it to you (seriously).

This strange and wonderful process shows that Williams and his collaborators are wholly dedicated to establishing a personal link with their fans; an understanding which may allow them to overcome the problem many bands face in earning a living from their art during an age of digital piracy and unfortunate exploitation by some promoters and labels.

The album itself opens with the riff-driven ‘Hurricane’; the guitar work reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin and providing a sense of upbeat muscle to establish its foundations. Second track and first single ‘All Day’ is a love song which utilises piano and high vocal harmonies to keep building the positive vibes. Lyrically personal and relatable, it’s a cleverly crafted pop tune which has real potential as a British summer anthem.

A sense of optimism continues through the gloriously catchy ‘Caroline’ before there is a distinct gear shift in ‘Satellite’. It’s a poetic, almost dark piece, bringing the sonorous feeling out of the clouds and into a more lachrymose and melancholy lay. The guitars and strings wail but the optimism is drained without sacrificing any of the splendour. ‘25’ is a wall of noise and defiance that chronicles a fear of death and the difficulties of establishing adulthood as a twenty-something – ‘Twenty five I’m still alive/and I ain’t finished yet’. The noise builds to a heavy climax, and is easily one of the album’s peaks.

Suzanne’ shares some sonic elements with the work of folk-rock legends The Decemberists and brings back the sense of sanguinity from earlier on in the record, while it’s also worth mentioning this is the second song on the album named after a woman. Promiscuous inspiration?

The album carries through this uplifting and amorous tone on the next few tracks, introducing harmonica in ‘Eskimo’ and producing another gem in the gloriously Fleetwood Mac influenced ‘Change of Heart’, closing with a whisper rather than a shout; ‘Everything Will Change’ is a beautifully composed piece of folk-pop. A little repetitive at times, but easing out of the album with a quiet dignity.

All things considered ‘Easy Fantastic’ is excellently constructed. Accessible whilst demonstrating real emotional investment on the part of the Tom Williams and his water-faring vehicle.

(Luke Savage)

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