Album Review: Tom Misch - 'Geography'

For those of you who are familiar with Tom Misch, he needs no introduction. For those who aren’t, he could easily become your latest obsession. As a dazzlingly talented multi-instrumentalist – more than competent on guitar, piano and violin – it’s easy to forget Misch is only 22 years old. Where his previous projects have showcased his talents as a producer, musician and writer in its purest form, the first track on his latest release Geography, ‘Before Paris’, sets the scene for a more polished, accomplished album.

Since the summer of 2017, Misch has teased at a new album with singles ‘Movie’, ‘It Runs Through Me’, ‘Water Baby’, and ‘South of the River’, the latter a soulful, immersive track oozing with jazzy riffs and stunning guitar solos – a spectacular showcase of Misch’s skill as musician and producer alike. Contrasting this, ‘Movie’ stages Misch’s diversity as an artist: a calmer, more refined track, also featuring vocals from his sister Polly. Although more serene than many of his other tracks, ‘Movie’ arguably contains the most enchanting bridge on the album in the form of a beautiful piano solo. In ‘Water Baby’, Misch teams up with long-time collaborator and good friend Loyle Carner in a delicious blend of jazz and hip-hop. Having previously collaborated on Carner’s debut album with ‘Damselfly’, and Misch’s ‘Reverie’ EP with ‘Crazy Dream’, the duo is something of a South London dream team – I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping ‘Water Baby’ isn’t the last time we see Misch and Carner joining forces.

In the last of the album teasers, we have ‘It Runs Through Me’, with Misch again proving his voice can effortlessly complement anyone, as he teams up with American hip-hop trio ‘De La Soul’. No doubt a group of great inspiration to Misch, having been produced by Misch’s musical icon – J Dilla – in the late 90’s. Having admitted to being ‘blown away’ by Dilla’s beat making skills and his ability to fuse styles of music together, Misch’s adoration is evident in his music, as he too blends jazz, soul and hip-hop together with ease.

Before the album begins, Misch presents us with some words from J Dilla himself: “You have to love this thing man, you have to love it and breathe it.” As if we needed a reminder, but Misch clearly loves what he does – and as the album goes on, we sure love what he does as well.

The album bursts into full swing with the uplifting ‘Lost in Paris’, featuring the talents of Washington based rapper ‘GoldLink’, a surprisingly good fit with Misch’s groovy guitar riffs. The track ‘Tick Tock’ serves as a kind of interlude in this diverse album, mixing short and sharp violin phrases over a baseline: enough to make even the most stubborn fan tap their foot. The album also provides some great potential live tracks in ‘Cos I Love You’ and ‘Disco Yes’, the latter blessed with the vocals of the young soul sensation Poppy Ajudha – both of these carrying an infectious groove that would no doubt be a sheer pleasure to witness live.

The album closes with the beautiful ‘We’ve Come So Far’, creating a tone of reflection (much like the title suggests) through a slow building, funky farewell. “I miss being a ‘17-year-old beat-maker’” tweeted Misch prior to the release of ‘Movie’ – and while he may have risen to something higher, creating a debut album that’s hard to criticise, he’s stayed firmly grounded. Still making tunes from his bedroom, Misch’s sound remains pure and unchanged, oozing with talent and love.

Additionally, the album subtly hints at the importance of family throughout, as sisters Polly and Laura contribute vocals and saxophone respectively, his mother again provides artwork, while the video for ‘Movie’ contains footage of his grandparents from the 1940’s. In my opinion, the album’s quality is enhanced by Misch being a genuinely talented and likeable character, and on that note, I wholeheartedly believe he deserves every ounce of recognition and respect for producing such an accomplished album so early in his career.

After listening, you may want Tom Misch to be your little secret, but as long as he’s producing tracks like these, it won’t be long before Misch takes centre stage.

Photos Courtesy of Giles Smith

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