by Philip Moss
Strange Times is a document of great songwriting born from an experience no one wanted, but that MF Tomlinson found himself using to his advantage
There’s nowhere to hide in folk music. Unlike other genres, you cannot bury your songs in studio trickery or production values. But on his first long player under his own name, the Australian songwriter’s craft is at the heart of everything that’s special about it.
It sometimes feels unfair to make comparisons to an artist’s work, but there is no shame in the influences that filter through on Strange Times. The intonation of Tomlinson’s voice on A Long Day could be the great Bill Callahan. While the shuffling seven plus minute arrangement, and the timeless melody of Them Apples brings to mind the early work of Ryley Walker. And ironically, considering these songs were written and cobbled together from the confines of his London flat, Tomlinson paints with pastel hues – bringing the colours of the village green to his songs through 70s organs, Nick Drake-alike backing vocals, and the flutter of flutes and flugelhorns.
There’s nowhere to hide in folk music. With songs like these, MF Tomlinson’s ready to swap the confines of home for centre stage.
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