‘An anthology of divergent styles that promise a skyward trajectory’

Tom Misch’s full length debut shows remarkable maturity, challenging conventional genre boundaries with verve

Geography feels like the beginning of something special. So polished is this selection of guitar-led, groove-infused tracks that it successfully belies an artist who is in fact only 22 years young and opts to produce his music in his bedroom. After having initially opted to veil himself from the spotlight before discovering his mellow yet stirring voice, Misch’s first full-length outing exhibits his journey from young producer to mature singer-songwriter.

That voice is emblematic of the mood on Geography. A distinctively British accent, it harks back to the mid to late 2000s’ surge in musicians who sang in the British vernacular. Misch’s voice is expressive yet effortless, never relying on belting out or falsetto to express himself, but rather mild, coffee-shop, musical minimalism. Clearly, he puts the craft of his songs above the pursuit of hedonistic showmanship.

Geography’s sonic amalgamation shows Misch’s insatiable hunger for expanding the range of styles at his disposal. However, his real talent lies in the fact that he has weaved all those styles onto one album with compelling conviction.

He displays this early on. ‘Before Paris’ is a soundscape discussing the issue of upholding artistic integrity in the face of the economic perils associated with a working musician.  ‘Tick Tock’, the album’s other instrumental skit, evokes a chilled house mood through its muffled synths and transitioning between a half-time swing feel to straight backbeat.  ‘South of the River’ betrays Misch’s true loyalties, proclaiming South London (and, more broadly, Britain) as where musical enterprise resides. A bold declaration, but one supported by the track’s lilting violin riff and driving funk guitar. It is a sonic universe, wrapped up by keyboard maestro Robert Araujo, who navigates the outro with a solo that will turn musos’ heads whilst inviting everyone else to the dance floor.

Collaborations see Misch work with old and new faces. Loyle Carner features on ‘Water Baby’, a track with a piano solo that exposes Robert Glasper’s influence, while ‘It Runs Through Me’ calls on the lyrical finesse of De La Soul. Here Misch seamlessly fuses his beat-making expertise with Latin rhythms, resulting in a song that sounds like a bossa nova indigenous to the suburbs of South Croydon. But it’s not just beats. Misch’s guitar playing prowess is littered throughout the album. ‘Movie’ is a slow jam which draws heavily on the nuances of John Mayer’s playing almost to a fault, sounding somewhat like the American’s equally emotive ballad, ‘Gravity’.

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In many ways, Geography challenges conventional genre boundaries, culminating in a sound that has a finger in every pie. From hip-hop to Latin, it demonstrates Misch’s potent ability to draw from contrasting musical spheres, an ability which is sure to set his career on a skyward trajectory.

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