I always try to find the positives in reviews and give constructive pointers where there are areas for improvement, and I guess with that in mind there’s some nice fingerpicked guitar here coupled with Tommy Harwood’s obvious enthusiasm for what he’s doing. Maybe it’s that enthusiasm that’s at fault here, because ‘Walking In The Dark’ feels and sounds like the passion to get the song finished and recorded took away from the necessity to polish the lyrics and work on the performance. Sadly, the guitar’s lacking in any midrange warmth and so bright as to be brittle and shrill, the vocals are too up-front in the mix and have some – to put it delicately – tuning and pitching issues, and the cajon sadly wanders in and out of time seemingly of its own volition. All of these things could be corrected by some vocal coaching and some time with a seasoned producer to take charge of the engineering and mixing, and to guide the performance in the right direction.
Tommy’s a poet as well as a songwriter, and there’s no question that, at the root of all this, he can write verse; he needs to focus a little more on meter-over-music – poetry and lyric writing are very different beasts, despite their surface similarities – and on the vocal performance. He certainly knows his way around fingerstyle guitar, and it’s a shame that the production values on this demo don’t really allow that to be showcased. It may be that in his eagerness to commit ‘Walking In The Dark’ to tape (is that even still a thing?) and add ‘multi-instrumentalist’ to his CV, he’s done himself a disservice – it’s entirely possible that, with a few fewer instruments to worry about, a bit of singing-and-guitar-only focus, and a decent producer to get the best out of his vocal and guitar-playing performance, there’s some nice song ideas here. It’s just a shame that they’re currently being undone by his intensity and spirit, and a desire to do everything all at once.
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Review by Alex Holmes