Swansea-born songwriter Tom Emlyn vividly illustrates why he is one of the most prolific and inventive emerging songwriters in Wales, with his new album Return Journey Revisited: Scaredycat Vol 15 released on the 5th of May. Recorded in 2018 and mastered by Charlie Francis (R.E.M., Pixies). A treasure trove of recordings dating back to 2016, 2017, and 2018, these songs offer a window into the sheer scope of Emlyn’s songwriting talent, his captivating songs uniquely exploring the particularity and peculiarity of human experience.
Today, he has shared his latest single ‘It Doesn’t Bother Me’ , the follow-up to ‘Broken Mirror’ and ‘Like a Cigarette’. It’s the last of three singles leading up to the album release on the 5th of May 2023.
Engineered by Randell Denning, BBC studios Swansea in 2018 ‘It Doesn’t Bother Me’ rattles with introspection, as Emlyn sketches out nightmarish visions of characters who lose themselves in the pursuit of success. Amidst a scorched strum of fuzzy guitars, battered acoustics and skippy keys and synths. It’s a raw earworm that tries to throw off the shadow of doubt.
Emlyn says: “This song is from the mind of an unreliable narrator, trying to convince himself of his own aloofness as much as he is the listener. It paints a nightmare picture of self-doubt, anxiety, dead-end jobs, bad decisions, time running out. Schizophrenic images of audible lights in the engine yard. Losing your real self in the pursuit of money, recognition, anything. The masks we wear to convince ourselves and others of our resilience.” Listen here:
Compared to Bob Dylan or Elliott Smith, Tom Emlyn’s sound, while rooted in garage rock, is tinged with psychedelia, folk, jazz, and blues overtones – including a recent adoption of the harmonica as a lead instrument.
Tom explains “Abandoned work is a normal part of the music-making process, but I felt these songs deserved a second chance. I also wanted to release it as a (small) protest against certain smoke-and-mirrors aspects of the music industry. People will tell you to wait and wait, hold back all of your material for the “right time”. I can’t do that anymore; for me, a song is only new when it’s just been written, although it can be remade in live performance. I find it quite agonising to sit on this material for so many years. I’ll be thirty in 2023. That’s why I want to get this sizeable backlog of unheard material out there, so I can move on to new things, and that’s why this is the third album I’ve released in a year.”
Tom Emlyn crafts honest, swirling evocative songs; tall tales, and dark jokes that cut straight to the bone. His current solo work maps an alternative Southwalian landscape, a hallucinated community drawn from psychogeography and local history. Written on foot and by bus, his observational, poetic lyrics and simple 60s-folk-influenced melodies explore what it means to belong to a place – the bitterness, the love and the humour. “The truth is, all of my music is one long song – constantly flowing from inner worlds and mysterious, unknown places.” He reveals “Songwriting is like a diary for me, and it’s time to share Return Journey Revisited: Scaredycat Vol 1. with you. It might be a slightly imperfect document, but I think it’s all the better for it.”
In summer 2022, Tom released his debut solo album ‘News From Nowhere’, a bittersweet love letter to his hometown of Swansea, described by Adam Walton (BBC Radio Wales) as a record of “undoubted brilliance, eloquence and energy”. It has been positively received, with airplay and support from Radio Wales, BBC Horizons, R.E.P.E.A.T. fanzine, God Is In The TV, and Joyzine, among others. Tom’s second album ‘I’ve Seen You In Town’ followed hot on the heels of the first – a more mellow, acoustic affair which was also well received. He also released the ‘Scounger EP’ on Bandcamp this February. He is currently promoting these records with intimately explosive solo and band performances across Wales and beyond, with a string of releases planned for 2023.
Tom Emlyn’s new album ‘Return Journey Revisited: Scaredycat Vol 15’ is released on the 5th of May. See here for details: tomemlyn | Twitter, Instagram, Facebook | Linktree
https://tomemlyn.bandcamp.com/ See tour dates below.
5th at 7:25 pm – FOCUS Wales @ The Parish., Wrexham
6th at 7:10 pm – FOCUS Wales @ The Royal Oak, Wrexham
12th – Dyddiau Du, Cardiff (solo to promote new album)
20th – Second 45 record shop Llanelli (solo to promote new album)
27th- in it together festival Margam
16th – Cwrw, Camarthen
17th – Cwrw (solo record shop in-store to promote new album)
17th June – Elysium, Swansea (to promote new album)
12th – Brecon Jazz/Fringe festival
6th – Hippos, Swansea