Having never heard of Tom Staniford until now, the EP’s cover art screamed “some acoustic artsy emotional and happy-go-lucky tracks a la Ed Sheeran or Jason Mraz.” After listening to the three tracks I think it meant to say “acoustic indie rock with a folk twist.” Think City & Colour just a little rockier, folkier and less forlorn.
Lesson Still Young opens with the catchy and dreamy, yet safe Starlight. It’s a song you’d want to have on repeat not because it’s different but for it’s strange familiarity. It’s a Sophie Ellis-Bextor cover. Staniford’s cover is acoustically mainstream but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor version. Far from it. He has turned it from a dance-pop number to an acoustic indie-rock tune backed by a haunting yet friendly melody. Hating it would be unnatural and wrong.
Perhaps it’s a clever choice as the first track as it eases new listeners into his music with something familiar. Turning Pages is where things get different. Almost an anthem track for embracing change, it’s a tune of poised grit with the introduction of a playful piano riff and moody cello in the chorus. We get a taste of Tom’s songwriting with stimulating, intelligent lyrics backed by a band of skilled musicians. It’s fresh.
Lesson Still Young is a broken heart apologetic song that’s even better, with its subtle folkness coming to the fore. It’s a crafty fusion of folk- just enough to have its own quirkiness but not so much that it puts the anti-folk off. This song shows off Tom’s vocals more than the others. I don’t know who broke his heart but it clearly led to great music… every cloud and all that.
I try to keep any personal bias out of reviews but I’ve had this EP on repeat since my first listen even though, all three songs are too short. They’re so good it feels like he’s teasing us. I don’t like to be teased. However as much as I would love longer songs part of me thinks he’s on to something. Pithy tunes may be the future with Staniford, it’s a cunning trendsetter.
Overall this band of 4 is simply giving us the iceberg treatment. There must be more to come. My iPod and I are waiting.
Below are all the places where you can find him online and of course you can track his gigs here on Brighton Noise.