Tom Pryce And Friends
For A Sweet And Loving Man
Tom Pryce And Friends deliver a collection of classic, heartfelt indie-rock with their debut album, For A Sweet And Loving Man. Andy Brown shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
The story of For A Sweet And Loving Man started some three years ago with the dissolution of the wonderfully ragged, Retford-based indie-rock act The Toy Trains. With a headful of songs and the ambition to finally get some national radio coverage, lead singer and songwriter Tom Pryce headed into Swanyard Studios with producer James Bennett. Calling in favours from his extensive time spent playing open mics, Pryce assembled a band from friends, family and likeminded musicians. The resulting Tom Pryce And Friends debut album is a heartfelt and immaculately-crafted collection of songs that really do deserve to be heard by as many people as possible.
Proud Of Love rides in on the back of dreamy guitars and propulsive drums, Pryce is in his element singing about light and love with a full-throated, impassioned vocal. As the title perhaps suggests, love is a strong and recurrent theme throughout the album. The kind of love that finds you howling at the moon in the pouring rain like a newly liberated Andy Dufresne (who says you can’t reference The Shawshank Redemption in 2021?!). I’ve always appreciated a good song about dreams and from Roy Orbison and Fleetwood Mac to The Clouds and The Coral, it’s a topic songwriter’s have been drawn back to again-and-again. It’s within this great tradition that we get the utterly fantastic I Dreamed. A dramatic and passionate piece of songwriting that crackles with electricity and Pryce’s innate gift for melody. Fuzz-heavy, shoegaze guitars underpin the emotive vocal, “Are we going out together? / Are we really planting seeds?”
What Now starts with a steady acoustic strum and the swell of brass, skipping into view with strings and a tune you’ll be humming for days. The sentimental Lost And Found strips away the extra instrumentation, transporting us back to the intimacy of an open mic. Remember those from the pre-pandemic days? The thoroughly gorgeous Hold You Tonight comes next; a soulful and unashamedly romantic ballad infused with swooning strings, glockenspiel and Pryce’s wide-eyed delivery. Falling finds the band delivering an achingly tender, folk-indebted ballad with some particularly heart-melting string arrangements. The backing vocals on the chorus ensure there isn’t a dry eye in the house as they echo Pryce’s sentiment, “don’t leave me”. Sometimes you can’t beat a bit of heartbreak.
It’s a beautifully textured album; the assembled friends bring a warmth and impressive musical depth to each composition. Be My Baby keeps things upbeat, bursting into life in a flurry of celebratory brass and goodtime vibes. Propelled by a simple and thoroughly heartfelt plea. Pryce’s vocal channels James Dean Bradfield circa-Everything Must Go on the exhilarating rush of Butterflies. With its mix of psychedelic rock, jazzy brass and strings Butterflies is the most adventurous song here and quite possibly the finest. Not for the first time, I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.
For A Sweet And Loving Man is a hugely enjoyable album: an effortless mix of uncynical indie-rock and lovelorn ballads that nod towards the bard of Wigan himself, Richard Ashcroft. An album soaked in equal parts joy, melody and melancholy. On a bedrock of classic, big-hearted songwriting Tom Pryce And Friends have created something comforting, accomplished and timeless.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.