English singer/songwriter Tom McRae returns with another of 2010's best on his fifth full length, "The Alphabet Of Hurricanes". If you enjoyed Josh Ritter's fine "So Runs The World Away" this year, you'll find a kindred spirit in 'Hurricanes'. McRae has also toured with a number of other artists I've raved about here including Greg Laswell and Cary Brothers.
There are definitely a lot of folk influences in McRae's music, with plenty of acoustic instrumentation from guitar to banjo. Piano also plays a prominent role, especially on the album's six ballads highlighted by "Summer Of John Wayne", a sad but lovely admission that "nothing good lasts forever."
The emotional highlight here is "Out Of The Walls", an examination of inner demons. "Wake up love, think I've lost control, the shadows are on the march and I can't fight them all" McRae sings in this beautiful piano driven song. "American Spirit" and "Still Love You" are other standouts in the ballad department.
It's not all melencholy though as McRae also delves into more upbeat pop/rock material, all coming from a folk base. "Please" is a smoldering march with an anthemic chorus, another of the album's highlights. The waltz "Won't Lie", as well as straight up folk of "Told My Troubles To the River" and "Me & Stetson", have much more bite in the vocal performances and are as strong as most of the ballads.
It also doesn't hurt that McRae is an ace songwriter and lyricist. He certainly deserves more of a following in the States. There are an overwhelming amount of artists in this genre out there, but rest assured McRae does not disappoint. It's well worth your time to take a listen to "The Alphabet Of Hurricanes".
"The Alphabet Of Hurricanes" was released March 16, 2010 on the Cooking Vinyl label.