With chart-topping singles in the UK, New Zealand and Canada, as well as the first UK/Europe country radio hit to feature openly gay lyrics, this week’s featured artist Tommy Atkins is something of a history-maker. His long-awaited debut album is released on 1st September.
The album is an eight-song story of Tommy’s life, told through fiddle, steel guitar and smart-mouthed lyrics. Consisting of the four songs from the Kiss Me, Cowboy EP, singles Stuck Behind A Tractor and It Took A Woman (ft Rissi Palmer), and two previously unheard songs, the album has been two years in the making. With just two songs left to review, it’s time to dive into our very first album review.
The two new songs sit together in the middle of the collection. Time Of The Month is up first, and it’s just as fun as Cinderella’s Had A Drink. It’s somewhere between a jive and honky-tonk, with raucous fiddle and rowdy harmonica. Throughout the song, Atkins laments ‘this time of the month’ – the time between paydays, and shows off a little more of his upper register, blasting his way through a classic tale of being broke until payday before living like a king for the weekend.
Met the Man (ft Hollier) is the fifth song on the album and second of the new songs. It’s a little less rambunctious than Time Of The Month but it’s classic nonetheless. Underpinned by masterful fiddle and with a wistful air of nostalgia, this duet – one of two on the album – is full of introspective self-deprecation. The lyrics to this song are raw, heartfelt and brutally honest – just what country songs should be. It’s a lovely twist on the coming-of-age ballad, with the lines “But that was the boy I was back then / I’m just glad you met the man.”
From the first song to the last, this album has impressive growth and a fantastically personal narrative. Tommy Atkins opens his heart and explores the awkward, fumbling moments of young love, the warm buzz of a night on the town, and the deeply emotional moments involved in falling in love. He does it openly and without hesitation or question, a master of words and a beautiful voice to boot. By the time the album is over – with the final track a tribute to a fallen friend – you’ve traveled Tommy’s journey, beside him every step of the way.