Tom Howie: The Right and Wrong of Everything EP
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2010
Tom Howie is a Canadian singer-songwriter currently living in New York City. The Right and Wrong of Everything is his third EP. Portions of the album were recorded at the revered Avatar Studios in Manhattan.
How is it?
Outstanding in places, above average elsewhere. Few if any singer-songwriters currently releasing music in 2010 have as much upside as Howie. His age-old falsetto brings a timelessness to each of his songs, while still holding on to 21st century commercial appeal. Possessing movie star good looks and enough melodic flair to make major labels drool, The Right and Wrong of Everything is awash in songs that should be flooding the iPods of college students the world over. To put it simply, heartbreak has never sounded so pure. On lead single and opening track "Diamond," he bitterly opines to a jilted lover, "Hey, just one more thing you're wrong about, you do it to yourself." Buttressed by lingering, jovial guitars, it's one of the year's most gorgeous songs and a shimmering ballad about vindication.
"What You Said," opens like a Coldplay b-side but ascends upward and moves more into David Mead territory. The entire framework feels very commercial and leans more towards Billboard charts and the Sunset Strip than that of New York City coffeehouses. While that isn't exactly a bad thing, it doesn't exactly feel comfortable. Calling it forced is probably an overstatement, but calling it a natural progression is probably saying too much. In truth, every struggling artist is going to want to show off their sonic mettle and penchant for melody at some point., so one can't exactly fault Howie for that.
"She Ain't Coming Home," navigates serpentine guitars and a woozy rhythm section and makes for a nocturnal and amiable listen. That being said, it's not exactly the stuff of legends either. The positive is that Howie has a keen wit towards romance and "She Ain't Coming Home," proves exactly that. Even when he's not on his A game, he's offering insight and honesty, and in the end, isn't that all one can ask for? Penultimate cut "Take It All Away," is an absolute must-listen and the kind of song that points towards greener pastures. Whether he realizes it or not, Howie and that awe-inspiring voice, are perfectly suited for music such as this and he quite honestly does it as well as anybody. Sure it's great to hear him up the sonic ante on a song like "What You Said," but the end results are not nearly as sweetly affecting as "Diamond," or "Take It All Away."
The EP ends with "You've Got The Touch," another mid-tempo foray into romance. Only this time instead of lamenting a love gone south, Howie constructs a valentine to all the inspiring moments of a new flame. Though the verses are at times overly saccharine, his falsetto saves the song from being mediocre. And that simple point is what makes The Right and Wrong of Everything so rewarding. Even when it stumbles, Howie's magnetic vocals keep the EP afloat. All across North America, in basements and garages, taverns and tea houses, there are musicians who'd kill to have vocals of this caliber. That very fact should not be ignored. Not even 24, Howie has all the tools to find his way into the hearts and minds of the North American mainstream. It's just a matter of when, not if.