9 Songs, 44 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

mrhig ,

Water, Longing and Myth

Welcome to the twin of Tom's last record, Alphabet of Hurricanes. The flipside of the coin. You can see the family resemblance, but From the Lowlands is a very different beast. Where Alphabet is showy (brilliantly so, never overdoing it), Lowlands is understated. Where Alphabet is punchy and takes on all-comers, Lowlands has nothing to prove.

Which is not to say that From the Lowlands is a record finding McRae happy in his new surroundings; song-matter wise, the album can be as dark and morose as ever. Running through the album like letters through a stick of Brighton Rock is a nostalgia for what was, and what might have been. McRae seems to be saying goodbye to two of his previous flings; perhaps, an old relationship, but more obviously, any hopes for the Bright Lights of fame.

Content-wise, it's a pleasure to finally see/hear the live favourite (of many years, now; the previous record was even named for it) "Alphabet of Hurricanes" committed to record. Elsewhere, you can find a moodier and more reflective cover of the old standard "Sloop John B" (well-known thanks perhaps to the Beach Boys). This was previously available on a themed front cover CD to a British music magazine, but it's nice to see it here, and very in-fitting with the general feel of the record.

"Nothing on the Dry Land" evokes Homer's Odyssey in its storytelling, perhaps metaphorical of a relationship, and/or loss of "place" or "home". "F**k You, Prometheus", far from a comment on the oeuvre of Ridley Scott (though that would be fair enough), appears to be a bittersweet though upbeat reflection on the sting of fame, but my personal favourite would have to be "Ship of Blue and Green"; it feels here, more than with the rest of the album, that we are closer to the real McRae, and that he is talking of a real loss (though the reference to mythology continues with hints towards Greek death customs).

Overall, highly recommended - the introvert to Alphabet of Hurricane's extrovert. Why not listen to them back to back and see what you think?

TheOtherCaptain ,

Haunting Heartbreaking (H)Acoustic Songwriting

Reminiscent of the raw, stripped back haunting first album, this is Tom McRae at his most heart-breaking and bravest. The melodies and lyrics are typical of the highly original and poetic quality that this shamefully-overlooked English songwriter usually pulls out the bag but the production is a return to the stark, genre-defying sound that intrigued the fans of his first two albums. This latest album has a definite tone and that tone is unequivocally NOT for those looking for a Glee Club Dance choon... but if you're not afraid to sit and listen to a whole album (remember those?) and go on a real journey full of melancholy and nostalgic (occasionally hilariously bitter) moments then strap in. I listen to this in my car, even though this is FAR from Drivetime stuff (the last song is 8 minutes!) and my every day journeys seem a bit more meaningful and poignant. I don't recommend this to anyone who's emotionally fragile already, it may tip you over the edge but this is definitely coming to my desert island with me. If ever there was a collection of anthems for those who've lost anything they've loved, then this is it!

kasupa ,

Sadly Beautiful

While serving as Part 2 of "Alphabet of Hurricanes", this is Tom McRae's sixth studio album and one that shows him in mellow, wistful mood. The themes of loss, regret and hope are honestly dealt with, in lyrics that for me, resonated with experiences I was going through at the time of the album's initial limited release in 2012. The opener, "Lately's All I Know" begins like a negro spiritual and is startling in being so beautiful, and yet about the awfulness of a sudden and unexpected death. How many of us wonder at the world being able to move on, when we feel dislocated, struggling to come to terms with a new and terrible grief? Somehow, Tom puts these feelings into words, acknowledges that stage where we haven't been able to process things, and can't yet move on, and gives it validity. And so, among the sadness and regrets, there's a warmth and hopefulness throughout. Tom's voice is as beautiful and textured as ever and with this album, he's given us a real gem.

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