Tommy Prine + Old Man Boom, The Portland Arms, Cambridge – third September 2023 – Americana UK

Tommy Prine + Old Man Boom, The Portland Arms, Cambridge – 3rd September 2023 – Americana UK
Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

Launched in June, ‘This Far South’, Tommy Prine’s debut, has been considered one of my albums of the summer time.  It’s been a continuing soundtrack to my lazy days and lengthy evenings.  Co-produced by Gena Johnson and Ruston Kelly, the document is an sincere and emotional journey that follows Prine from difficult instances in the direction of a brighter future.  I’ve been immersed in these intimate songs, these deeply private recollections and open-hearted confessionals, and I arrived at The Portland Arms stuffed with expectation, able to be transported into the locations, instances and emotions of which Tommy Prine sings.  I used to be to not be upset.  An excellent venue that champions nice artists, The Portland Arms has a good-sized efficiency house tucked behind the principle pub, the place you’ll be able to rise up near the artists and the sound is superb.

Earlier than Prine’s set, Marc Williams, AKA Old Man Boom, offered intriguing help together with his tackle ‘murder-folk’ which he famous was his, “Model of music, not what I do!”  The Cambridgeshire-based artist  performs stirring songs that always sound upbeat however have a darker coronary heart.  Arriving on stage he was welcomed with a clap and famous that we had set a low bar as he hadn’t completed something ye and that good humour remained all through.  The sluggish, delicate banjo-picking of ‘A Coronary heart Stuffed With Ghosts’ was a compelling begin.  Solely ever performed dwell as soon as earlier than, it set the lyrical tone and was notable for William’s delicate, low vocal supply.  ‘A Love Letter to Demis Roussos’ and ‘Elim’ had been considerably extra upbeat, with a sooner strum.  A brand new music, ‘As I Wait’, a couple of relationship that works out very badly, was a spotlight of the set.  Beginning slowly, the music constructed to an actual crescendo.  Old Man Boom had a selection of songs to complete his set and chosen, ‘Island within the Solar’, “…the happier of the 2.”  It’s a couple of man dying on a desert island, which neatly sums up Williams’ narrative intent.

Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

Tommy Prine arrived with a a simple smile and discuss of consuming an excessive amount of Indian meals simply half-hour beforehand.  His presence was affable, welcoming  and shut: “Small crowd, small room form of vibe – that is going to be enjoyable!”  Getting ready us for the intimate nature of his songs and efficiency he additionally knowledgeable us that “All of the songs are tales and experiences from my life, issues I did or that occurred to me.  They made me the particular person I’m as we speak.”  And early music ‘Boyhood’ was an ideal instance of Tommy as a storyteller.  About rising up together with his brother Jack, the music is stuffed with little particulars that draw you into the reminiscences of playful instances, interwoven with intelligent lyrics about crossing a creek, “that was ten years broad,” and an trade together with his father who has crossed it many instances, reassuring his son that he’ll too, “And after I’m completed, you’ll train your son how one can swim it straight.”  Listening to him sing these phrases, a strong voice that contrasts together with his delicate guitar work, it’s hanging how nicely he writes concerning the passage of time and familial relationships, making his experiences common and turning on a regular basis childhood video games into one thing extra profound.  Like the most effective poets, he appears to slide between these parts with an ease that takes his viewers with him.

From his childhood, Tommy took us into his early twenties for the title observe of his debut album, ‘This Far South’.  It was a interval of partying and poor life selections that meant he was, “turning into a person I didn’t wish to be.”  The message of the music, on the coronary heart of the entire album, is that he wanted to maneuver in the direction of one thing higher and brighter and he’s decided to by no means be this far south once more.  There was pressing finger-picking and a timeless vocal melody that felt each recent and but acquainted.  Nearly spoken at instances, the supply was really heartfelt and sincere; this music is one other superb instance of Tommy Prine’s potential to make himself weak in a approach that pulls us to his facet.  He informed us that he referred to as his pal Ruston Kelly over to listen to the music and Kelly urged they reduce a demo, saying, “You must give up your job and develop into an artist.”  Ruston Kelly is aware of a factor or two about songwriting and this was superb recommendation.

Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

Prine then delivered one of the crucial emotionally resonant songs and performances I’ve ever seen.  ‘By the Means’ is an open-hearted music concerning the demise of his well-known father, John.  On document, the lyrics are highly effective however to have it performed proper in entrance of you was gorgeous and the very purpose that we love dwell music.  Tommy was visibly moved as he sang, “By the best way, folks say I look similar to you.”  This felt completely actual and it was a privilege to be offered with such an perception.  Once more, it was completely disarming in his vulnerability.  He lightened the temper with ‘Gandalf’, an wry ode to ‘Lord of the Rings’, after which one other upbeat music in ‘Mirror and a Kitchen Sink’.  Whereas it’s a punky music on document, it’s a captivating, rolling, swaying acoustic quantity right here.  He launched the energetic music by explaining that he used to dwell in an condominium in Nashville, the place he would tempo round and consider pretend folks, having discussions with them and pondering of witty one-liners.  Finally, he realised that he was simply  arguing with himself and never getting anyplace.  On the time, the one issues within the room had been a mirror and a kitchen sink and that turned the muse of the music.

As Ruston Kelly co-produced Prine’s album and is a pal, it was no shock {that a} cowl was included within the set.   Kelly’s 2020 music ‘Courageous’, a music about legacy and what we depart behind – completely in tune with Prine’s authentic songs, was carried out with a sluggish, deep depth.  Prine described Kelly as considered one of his favorite songwriters however, together with his emotional supply, he made it his personal.  Subsequent up was ‘Mysteries of Man’, delightfully carried out – actually, he nearly laughed whereas singing his smartly-phrased lyrics.  Within the run as much as ending his album, Prine had written north of seventy songs.  Then, sooner or later he picked his guitar and for that second, “I found out I had nothing left to say.”  Prine defined that he continues to put in writing when feeling like that by choosing one thing he can see within the room he’s in and simply beginning to make observations.  That day, he might see two books: ‘The Prophet’ and ‘The Theory of Music’ and the ensuing concepts coalesced right into a music that may be a common in his dwell exhibits.   The pretty tune of ‘Caught within the Wake’ started with gently finger-picked chords that grew right into a extra highly effective strum; it featured quieter and slower moments wherein Prine’s voice cracked at instances with the sensation of his fascinating supply.

Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

A re-tune and a capo later – leading to a stunning, heat sound – Prine sang ‘Observations’, which had an amusing introduction.  He defined, “My spouse and I wish to foster cats and canine.  And by that I imply my spouse likes to foster cats and canine.  Normally I simply get a textual content with an image of a cat or canine already within the automobile: ‘Meet Maggie.  Canine.  Going to be with us three months.’  I requested her to rethink that one.  It’s now been three years and Maggie sleeps with me each evening.”  The guitar work was delicate and fluttering and Prine smiled to himself whereas singing, “I’m sorry I urged protecting Maggie within the basement.”  As soon as once more, listening to ‘Observations’, I used to be struck by his humour and humanity.  A Tommy Prine present is de facto like simply spending a night sitting down with him and changing into immersed in his life: the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the enjoyment and grief.  He shares all of it and it’s spellbinding.

‘I Love You all the time’ was written for Prine’s spouse and it’s completely unselfconscious and open-hearted.  It builds and quietens with adjustments in tempo and quantity.  It’s a particular factor to put in writing so successfully and genuinely about love.  This was adopted by the excellent 2022 single ‘Ships within the Harbor’.  The phrases are considerate and poetic: “It’s why I get unhappy when there’s ships within the harbor // ‘Trigger they should be leaving quickly, as they need to…I’d do something simply to speak to my father // However I suppose he was leaving quickly, as we do // Yeah, I suppose he was passing by means of, and I’m too.”  It’s a reminder that every one now we have, all the things we love, even our personal lives, are ephemeral.  Once more, the emotional pull of the music was irresistible, currents of loss and grief sweeping us listeners into our personal harbours and pondering of the ships we’ve seen leaving.  It was the kind of music, genuine and easily lovely, that all of us expertise collectively however, for a couple of moments, locations us into our personal worlds.

Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

Prine completed his set with the brilliant strum of his current single ‘Money Carter Hill’.  Just a few months earlier than the completion of the album, Prine and Ruston Kelly frolicked on a writing retreat in Mom Maybelle Carter’s home and a 3rd of the songs had been written there.  Kelly urged it and John Carter Money thought it might be a, “cool concept.”  Every day, Kelly and Prine went strolling up a hill within the grounds.  It struck Prine that everybody has one huge mountain to climb earlier than determining who they’re.  He wrote a poem.  Then, he put chords to it.  The end result is likely one of the most affecting songs on the album.  Lyrically and musically, this was an exquisite music to complete on.

All through the present, Prine’s chatter, explanations and introductions helped make the songs extra actual, extra vivid, extra emotional.  He discovered, repeatedly, that superb stability between sharing humour and severe trauma, which made him immensely good firm for a night.  Our thanks should go to Ruston Kelly for persuading Tommy Prine to pursue a life as a songwriting troubadour as a result of he has an incredible present for drawing us into his life and musical world.  Of being in a brand new metropolis on the opposite facet of the ocean, he stated, “I can’t inform you what it means to me.  It makes me actually rattling completely satisfied to be right here.”  This author was fairly rattling completely satisfied too and I stay up for Tommy Prine’s return to those shores.  Subsequent time he’s over right here, I urge our readers to expertise considered one of his exhibits.

Photograph credit score: Andrew Frolish

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