Album: Tom Baxter

Skybound (Sylvan/Charisma)
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The Independent Culture

There's a huge wave of unalloyed romantic spirit coursing through Tom Baxter's second album, rising up at times to swamp some of the songs completely. It can be a gruelling listen when he's testing the upper limit of his vocal register on tracks such as "Better", a fulsome torch song with melodic echoes of "24 Hours to Tulsa", and on the overwrought melodrama "Half a Man".

But there's plenty of subtler, more genuinely soulful music elsewhere, as on "Tell Her Today", which starts out as an African-inflected shuffle but develops a lissom Latin groove; and on the opening track "A Night Like This", a languid soul-jazz reminiscence of youthful holiday romance built from loping double bass, understated guitar and sparse piano chords all swept up in swirling strings. The theme of burning love permeates almost the entire album, most literally in the flamenco-styled "Icarus Wings"; but Baxter is less assured on the more allegorical territory of "The Last Shot" and "Tragic", a glum reflection on the way maturity smothers intrigue and ambition.

Download this: 'A Night Like This', 'Tell Her Today', 'Icarus Wings', 'Skybound'