Tom McQ is more myth than man. A musicians musician that we have waxed lyrical about before. The kind of exuberant and enchanting enigma who can play from the witching hour to the dawn and never repeat a song. The kind of folkloric fable who can break his guitar at a festival and the campsite will secretly have a whip around to buy him a new one.
His music vibrates with the feel good groove of the sixties, it punches with the power of the bloody and brutal Britpop battle for the charts, and it soothes the soul with the poetic and philosophical musings of modern folk heroes like Dylan or Bragg.
Tom McQ takes this kaleidoscopic acid trip of influences and knits them together sat cross legged in an incensed haze into a cosmic tapestry that resonates with the exact hum of divine inspirations frequency.
You feel the music vibrating your atoms and this inescapable intertwining instrumentation energises every part of you. You don’t just listen to Tom McQ you are inescapably consumed by it.
This huffing hyperbolic hype is well earned and it’s only due to the humble and honest nature and love for the music that McQ is able to channel this raw and pure force.
Mastered vibes in sync at the legendary Abbey Road Studios ‘In Between Stations‘ offers the perfect introduction to McQ’s skillful song writing.
It begins with the titular track ‘In Between Stations’ a song about the liminal space in between liminal spaces. A journeyman’s ode to the road that easily transcends the boundaries of a physical space to become something much more profound in the nuance of the lyricism.
It begins with the luscious licks of the guitar strings skipping through a crescendoing cadence that lays the track for the journey ahead. When Tom’s vocals join the pilgrimage the soulful and heartfelt emotion and honest pen lends a heavy hearted weight to the dissonant dance.
The track has a delightfully freaky and funky little interlude in the intermission spent “minding the gap”. The instrumentation is intricately woven into the build and then released with an interstellar force.
‘Bonnie Lee Gift‘ picks out a more merry march but once again the beautiful and bittersweet lyrics make for something that tugs at your heart and head just as easily as your hand as it pulls you to the dancefloor.
Like a dog with a chewtoy McQ finds a riff or vocal hook and then with giddy childlike joy attacks it with a tender mouthed ferocity. Adding flicks, flecks, and flux, every song evolves and progresses without ever losing its sense of home.
The EP ends with the lingering lament of ‘Everyday (A Song For Travellers)‘ which returns to the theme of the roaming road and the legacy and love left behind.
There is a tearful trickle to the gentle pluck of the guitar that is matched and mirrored in the husky honesty of the vocals.
“While I’m gone, please have my songs, I wrote them for you, and in every line, I am sure you’ll find, that I was always true,”
The legend of Tom McQ lives on and it now exists in handy audio format with the release of ‘In Between Stations‘. Head over to Bandcamp to grab yourself a copy.
If you haven’t caught this travelling troubadour live and in the flesh there is no better time than now. He has an upcoming show at Shapwick Church in Dorset on the 26th of November, get tickets while you can for this intimate space and infinite talent.
Words by Matt Miles.