Thomas White: Yalla! album reviews

iTunes with Bonus

Selected Songs: Soundcloud
King Of The Kingdom: Video
I’ve Seen The Sunrise: Video

Thomas White Facebook

Interviews on Yalla! Marc Riley BBC 6 MusicBrighton Music BlogMore Than The Music (March 2012) Brighton and Hove Community Radio (July 2011)

YALLA! REVIEWS: Recorded while away in Dahab, Egypt, Yalla! is a largely stripped back affair comprising solely of vocals and acoustic guitar. The minimalist approach can be heard right down to the background tape fuzz as White gently picks and reflects through ten tracks of harmonious bliss. Lyrically, it’s evidently among the most personal work White has committed to record with frequent musings on past experiences, friends and loss. Sparse opener ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ beautifully captures the reflective nature: “Took a trip out to God knows where / Don’t even know when I’ll be back again / I miss Brighton town / Cold wet and brown / All the fallen leaves”. White delivers these songs with a subdued, earnest warmth making repeat listens a must. While White may not know when he’ll be back again, fans will no doubt be returning to this album for years to come. ‘Yalla’ is an album that is full of intricate melancholic songs. Opener ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ sets the tone for the album as it slowly weaves its way out of your speakers, when the acoustic guitar and vocals kick in on the one minute mark you will find yourself at one with the album. ‘I’ll See Her Again’ is a short but sweet and truly moving song as Thomas sings “My heart burns, I pine for her return”. Other highlights include ‘Dream I Dwelt In Marble Halls’ which recalls the Beatles at their psychedelic best. ‘Diver’s Torch’ has a relaxing melody and vocals, the lyrical content sees Thomas longing for his home town, and drinking the weekend away with old friends. ‘The English Sargasso’ is a six minute song which you will find yourself hanging intently on every note that is played and every word that is sung. Thomas White is one of the finest musicians this country has produced and ‘Yalla’ is an album that you can’t live your life without hearing. Record Of The Week: I loved Electric Soft Parade and I also fell in love with Brakes after seeing them on a cold winters day, totally off my trolly in a dingy basement in Exeter. Nothing though really prepared me for this acoustic album… Basically an acoustic set. Short and sweet and wonderful in every way. Also for those lucky enough to have bought it in selected record shops it came with a wonderful EP which was limited to 50 handmade copies. The spirit of Lennon and McCartney run down the spine of this record, as if they were sat in that hotel room in Dahab. Opening track ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ oozes regret; ‘I’ll See Her Again’ is a tale of lost love that appears to have picked up the baton from Elliott Smith, the same one that was mistakenly picked up by Graham Coxon. ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ is his finest Lennon/McCartney impression with the moods and shades turning from dark to light and back again as quick as his voice moves.

At times White sounds like he’s about to enjoy himself with a big soaring chorus but then he pulls it all back to the bleak; that post-tragedy feeling where life should never be enjoyed again and that any feelings to the contrary are self-indulgent. ‘I’ve Seen the Sunrise’ documents lost love and loneliness but muddles it with the highs and the feeling that all is not lost.

Throughout Yalla! White seems as homesick-for and rooted in Brighton and his favourite landmarks as it is possible to be. He’s a veteran of the music scene there having burst onto the scene aged 17 with the much-hyped Electric Soft Parade and having been around for over a decade and been in more bands than Mike Patton (possible exaggeration), it is easy to think of White as a veteran but at 27 you hope he’s just getting started and has enough melancholy to make a record like Yalla! at least once more. Following 2010’s Rundgren-esque fusion of glam rock and blue-eyed soul, The Maximalist, White goes back to singer-songwriter basics on his latest solo album, which he could easily have titled The Minimalist; stripped down to just acoustic guitar and subtly multi-tracked vocals, the odd dappled synth line lifting it away from stark confessional to somewhere dreamier and more ambiguous.

Recorded during a holiday of sorts in Dahab, Egypt in the autumn of 2010, Yalla! , is a highly personal and introspective work that White didn’t originally intend for commercial release. Written in the aftermath of both losing his mother and the end of a long-term relationship, it’s suffused with a nostalgia and homesickness that also seems to represent a wider sense of loss and a yearning for ballast and security.

The melancholy folk-pop of ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ positively oozes autumnal ennui and bittersweet regret; the deceptively jaunty ‘I’ll See Her Again’ captures some of the wounded innocence of early Byrds or Simon and Garfunkel. ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ reinforces this feel, of the point when Everly Brothers-influenced 1960s acoustic pop began to be darkened with darker, modal inflections and a discreet hashish fog weighted the vocal harmonies.

Throughout, White’s knack for sinuous melodies that never turn into obvious earworms, yet retain a classic tunefulness, is more apparent than ever thanks to the Spartan backing. Just as, lyrically, you can sense the conflict between guarded reticence and heart-on-sleeve intimacy, so the tunes often seem about to soar into anthemic choruses before pulling themselves back into a droning minor key; you can almost picture White with an angelic McCartney on one shoulder and a devilish Lennon on the other, each pulling and stretching at his rubber soul.

Brighton and its landmarks get many mentions on Yalla!, as indeed do many of Tom’s personal friends, favourite pubs etc. If this sounds self-indulgent, then remember that White originally put this album out as a low-key free download, only agreeing to a full release when convinced of the timeless quality of its ten short, understated numbers. But for all the nostalgic references to English rain and provincial swimming baths, there’s a lazy, sun-bleached feel to Yalla! that betrays its genesis on the beaches, bar tables and flat stone roofs of South Sinai.

“The Bedouin girls are all looking at me,” White mumbles on ‘Ocean Green’, which also includes the first of many dalliances with the idea of floating off into the Red Sea, never to return. ‘Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’ and the rambling ‘King Of The Kingdom’ feature the Beach Boys-via-Boo Radleys close high harmonisation that’s an Electric Soft Parade trademark, but ‘I’ve Seen The Sunrise’ mixes in some geographical musical influences, with the sonorous wistfulness of a middle eastern folk song in its verses, albeit set against a more conventional western ballad chorus.

Troubled yet warm, defensive and guarded yet gently reaching out, Yalla! is a low-key landmark in White’s on-going artistic evolution, taking stock before the next phase begins. Impressive as his achievements thus far have been, I feel that White has only begun to show us what he’s capable of. The third solo installment from Thomas White is not one to be missed. Using the Sahara as inspiration, this entirely acoustic and reflective album underlines one fact – Thomas White misses Brighton. However, it seems an Egyptian getaway and a bit of heartache for his hometown has opened up some new doors for him.

Tracks such as ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ and ‘Diver’s Torch’ have distinctive echoes of Simon & Garfunkel in both sound and quality. While not all tracks live up to this comparison they certainly give it a run for its money. The one word album title ‘Yalla!’ simply means ‘Let’s Go!’ in Egyptian and White certainly tries to.

The opening track ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ kick starts with an impressive sound collage of vocals which fill the expanse of the first minute. The simple guitar riff matched with vocals, ‘The sun beats down on desert ground’ really paints the picture of the album. Both male and female harmonies join White in the remaining verses which, if anything, just add ambience to the meditative opening track.

The album really kicks off with ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ – it easily could have been the soundtrack to ‘A Quantum of Solace’. Using all the sharps and flats he can find, the track explodes with a foot stamping chord sequence. The lyrics are powerful enough to paint the picture of his surroundings, even for the most unimaginative person. Revisiting the lyrics of the first track, White re-emphasises his surroundings with the line, ‘the sun bakes the ground, the sun bakes the ground’. The chorus kicks in sounding like it has been produced by George Martin with Art Garfunkel on the backing vocals giving it great chart potential. The only criticism that comes to mind is that it should last longer than two minutes.

White has clearly saved the best till last with Yalla! His penultimate track ‘Diver’s Torch’ has some melodic genius, both instrumentally and vocally paving the way for his finale.

‘The English Sargasso’ is the tenth and final track on the album and it’s a real tearjerker. With a simple yet elegant guitar riff repeated throughout its six and a half minutes, it takes you on a mostly instrumental emotional journey. Although the lyrics last just over a minute you don’t really notice that there’s a five minute outro because you get lost in your thoughts. The ambient backing track paints the picture of whale song and although it’s more or less on repeat you don’t want it to end. Self-produced and recorded as something of a lonely postcard while on an extended trip to Egypt, the title, we’re told, is Egyptian for “let’s go” (and the name of a local bar near where he stayed)

Sounds like: more Nick Drake-ian in scope than the T-Rex/Badfinger amalgam of The Maximalist, acoustic neo-folk tracks that move — make that drift — at their own unhurried pace… the vocal harmonies and dense jangle of guitar strums hinting at what could have been a dramatically fuller production — but this is ambient “unplugged” folk/pop that revels in it’s own unblushing nakedness…

Quote: “In the past I’ve been a real big fan of The Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse – people who really throw everything at the wall, production-wise. But I’ve come to realise there’s something impenetrably cool about stuff like Bert Jansch, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake – something no studio trickery can conjure”

What we like: the lush, multi-tracked harmonies that flesh out the choruses of songs like the Beatle-ish “I’ve Seen the Sunrise” and “King of the Kingdom”… the mellow core of Yalla! manages to emit a thoughtful melancholy that reinforces many of the songs’ wistful reflection… “That Heavy Sunshine Sound” pretty much describes itself, an upbeat track that delivers a joyous, much-needed stream of light… “No-one does hippy love with a bite like Tom White,” claimed the press release for this album… “With a bite” is perhaps misleading, as much of the album drifts by languidly – as on seductively slow-paced standouts All The Fallen Leaves and I’ve Seen The Sunrise. Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls, though, harks back lyrically to Why Do You Try So Hard To Hate Me? – from ESP’s Holes In The Wall debut – and is all the better for it.

While that suggests more of the promised bite could have been a good thing, if only to vary the pace, that is by no means to decry what is available and White has constructed a deliciously dreamy album set to offer an intermittently arresting backdrop for lazy summer and autumn days. Yalla! is Thomas White’s third solo album and is quite possibly his most personal and accomplished work to date.

The album fades in quietly, opening with All The Fallen Leaves. Nearly a minute passes before the first chord is played. The lyrics tell of a aching for home – Brighton – despite the fact that “the sun beats down on desert ground”, and that home is “cold, wet and brown”. An acoustic guitar plucks away at simple chords, and a haunting close harmony joins in for some of the repeated lyrics which aren’t quite a chorus.

I’ll See Her Again and That Heavy Sunshine Sound are a bit more upbeat, but the undercurrent of yearning is still there – not for Brighton this time, but for a woman. The latter is definitely one of my highlights of the album, with the near perfect stanza ”I am a boy / with a crush on a girl / who is out of my league / and is certainly out of this world”, which encapsulates exactly how I felt far too often in my early twenties.

The album continues in it’s psychedelic folk theme – Nick Drake with harmonies by the Beach Boys, with Norwegian Wood by the Beatles playing on the radio in the next room. For a more recent comparison, it occupies the same musical space as Balcony Times, the album put out at the end of last year by Milk & Biscuits (which incidentally, Thomas played on).

The best is saved until last. Album closer The English Sargasso lasts for nearly six and a half minutes, and by this point, Thomas is homesick for his friends and the pubs of Brighton – “We’ll hit the Dorset, and maybe The Hand, and down to Fitzherberts and the Globe after that”. While the last piece clocks in over five minutes, it doesn’t drag, but feels unhurried, moving along at a different, slower pace. The kind of pace that things move at when you’re on holiday with absolutely nothing to do – an incredibly clever trick to nail.

If this is what happens when Mr White goes on holiday, I can’t wait to hear the results of his next trip. Pretty damn mesmerizing from start to finish. Ramshackle, raw and sparse, yes, but all that conspires to highlight the sheer songwriting talent on offer.

At ten tracks averaging roughly two and a half minutes White can never be accused of self-indulgence, which is something else that marks him out from other side projects/solo projects in the first place, but crucially, what it also means is that folk who might not consider themselves a fan of acoustic music won’t find it getting old.

Take I’ll See Her Again for example, the song is definably White and an acoustic guitar, but it’s so steeped in good old fashioned song craft that it’s markedly different from anything else on the record, which, bar some sundry piano and multi-tracked vocals is also just White and an acoustic guitar.

Personally, I can’t get enough quiet, confessional, songs from sensitive souls so in a way, the record is almost too slight, too simple. However, before I can properly feel that, some melodic nuance will catch me off guard and absorb me wholeheartedly yet again… Taken for what it is, a short, direct set of songs by a supremely talented songwriter, I’m willing to bet my own money that you won’t find a better example this year. Of all the ‘almost made it’ bands of the noughties, Brighton’s The Electric Soft Parade were certainly amongst the most interesting. An amalgamation of brit-pop, early nineties alternative American rock and the art-pop of The Velvet Underground, the band were truly undersold by the media and frontman Thomas White was undersold as a songwriter. Between stints in The ESP and the equally wonderful Brakes, White has also been steadily building a solo career, a career which is compounded by this rather quietly wonderful third album.

The morbid, ambient pulse which leads into the lethargic opening ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ is a perfect introduction to the record. A muted sigh of a song which seems to effortlessly join the dots between the pastoral folk of Nick Drake and the lo-fi miserablism of Sparklehorse. White’s soft focus vocals and gentle guitar play against the heavily reverberated backdrop in a manner which is not repeated until the final song some 25 minutes later, namely the stately ‘English Sargasso’, a master-class in understated ambient acoustic pop.

Everything in between is pretty much uniformly lovely but the lush harmonies and glitzy melodies of ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ and the haunting ‘King Of The Kingdom’ deserve special mention. Elsewhere it’s just a lovely way to spend 30 minutes which underlines Whites reputation as one of our most underrated talents. And you can’t really say fairer than that. The album was recorded on a six week sojourn to Egypt and suffering from homesickness he turned to his guitar, laptop and an old Sony Handicam. Over the next ten days he wrote songs, snorkelled, and drank and managed to create what would become this release, Yalla.

We’d already seen a couple of very good reviews and it has been a treat to listen to some of the songs on the album. They are simple, reflective and very personal and stripped of any trickery, trappings or extras they remain both touching and resonant in a way that is rarely heard these days. Releasing an album this summery mere weeks after some of the snowiest drifts in recent memory might seem like carelessness, but, frankly, that’s the only aspect of ‘Yalla!’ that even hints at a lack of attentive affection. Having had a pop at indie since the Electric Soft Parade and the hit parade parted company, Thomas White is now liberating the acoustic guitar from the faux-folketeers. At its best, ‘Yalla!’ flourishes with immaculate embellishments (the gentle waves of ‘Diver’s Torch’ and the ethereal echoing of ‘All The Fallen Leaves’) and contemplates escape and young lust over Teenage Fanclub harmonies. ‘Yalla!’ is the third solo album from Electric Soft Parade’s Thomas White and it sees the Brighton singer songwriter in reflective and meditative form. It was written and recorded over the course of a two week holiday in the Egyptian town of Dahab and, indeed, the title is Egyptian for the phrase “Let’s go.” The warm, stifling desert of Egypt may seem a rather incongruous location for an English songwriter to record, but the idyllic imagery of the surrounding landscape provides a perfect fit for an album full of contemplative reflection.

The record is completely acoustic and the soft understated sound complements White’s hushed vocals. The sound is, for the most part, folksy and simple; its traditionally English folk sound and delicate acoustic guitar evokes clear comparisons with Nick Drake. Where ‘Yalla!’ really excels is lyrically and, in particularly, White’s use of imagery. Elemental imagery is used throughout and there are innumerable references to the sea, the sun and the weather; ‘All The Fallen Leaves’ has a lovely air of wistful melancholy as White describes the Egyptian sun which “beats down on desert ground.”

Despite his picturesque surroundings, however, White longs for home and Brighton’s distinctly more drab skies “I miss Brighton town, cold, wet and brown”. The theme of pining for home is repeated throughout these songs as, despite being on the other side of the world in an idyllic paradise, most of these songs are about Brighton and White’s feelings about his hometown, it all makes for a rather beguiling and intriguing juxtaposition.

The record works best when the songs are simple and direct; the lilting chorus of the appositely named ‘I’ve Seen The Sunrise’ is a particularly lovely moment… There is no doubting White’s ability to make beautifully crafted melodic pop and when he is at his best, on the free-wheeling ‘That Heavy Sunshine Sound’ it is an especially joyful and exuberant sound.

Final track ‘The English Sargasso’ is perhaps the most impressive piece here as, over the course of its 6 minutes of pastoral folk, White reminisces about absent friends back home, it’s all desperately sad but strangely uplifting at the same time, and that is also the feeling you are left with after listening to this curious but beguiling album. A perfect accompaniment to any Sunday morning, whether you’re just getting in or just waking up.

I’m not sure of the exact circumstances – and frankly the details are none of my, nor indeed your, business – but I get the impression that the rivers of Thomas White’s life were not flowing calmly in the time leading up to the recording of Yalla! You can quickly gather, if you listen closely enough, that words were said, feelings were hurt and relationships were strained; quite possibly even torn apart which can never be an easy thing to deal with.

Living amidst the burning embers of a number of emotional bridges can be difficult for anyone to come to terms with. Many of us have been in similar situations, I’m sure. Sometimes, the only way to make sense of yourself and your environment is to actually get away from it all and let the dust settle, not only back home but in your own mind. Schmaltzy American movies and TV chat show hosts would have you believe that you’re ‘trying to find yourself again’ but really it’s just about getting yourself a bit of space to think and make sense of what’s happened. In Yalla! we find our protagonist Mr White in Dahab, Egypt, armed only with his trusty guitar and laptop, trying to make sense of his burning embers and the result is a fascinating, insightful, deeply personal and emotional record.

Opener All The Fallen Leaves does nothing more than set the scene but it does so wonderfully. It opens like the dawn of a new day, slow and quiet, building up some synth noises until we find Mr White playing an enchanting lullaby of a tune on his guitar. Lyrically, it’s a prime example of just how deceptively simple this album seems at first. The lyrics could easily fit on the back of your average postcard and yet, without ever trying to be profound or elaborate, they quickly introduce you to a man feeling lost and alone, trying to understand how he came to be in the place he finds himself and feeling an emotional pull towards the town he’s just ran away from, which isn’t an easy thing to do in twelve short lines.

I’ll See Her Again is even better. It sets its stall out as a gentle love song, “I met a girl from Western Isles and I’ll see her again” but quickly turns itself into something more caustic and dramatic “On my return, stand and watch the bridges burn.” The spiteful tone of the last few lines works completely against the playful tune and pleasant opening. They totally twist the meaning and intent of the song, making it much more dramatic than it would appear at first glance. It’s a wonderful song, one that catches you unawares. It’s so beautifully and calmly played that it makes the barbed ending all the more sharp, unexpected and unsettling. Again, that’s a hard thing to achieve in under two minutes so well done Mr W.

I feel confident in saying that anyone who ever felt any kind of connection to anything Elliott Smith ever conjured up will feel some kinship with That Heavy Sunshine Sound or Lungful of Air but that’s not to say that this feels like someone trying to copy Smith’s blueprint. That would be doing Mr W a disservice for it’s the quality and strength of the songwriting that truly shines through on Yalla! Ok, we know Mr W is a talented guitar player and the (admittedly gorgeous) backing vocal arrangements add a gentle but well needed depth to the sound but if the songs weren’t strong enough Yalla! would quickly fall flat; instead it soars and improves on every listen.

The lyrics are direct, honest and as such easily accessible but that does not mean they are childlike or naïve in any way. In fact, that directness and openness disguises just how clever they are. They’re playfully pieced together and have a rather savage streak of humour running through them. Honestly, lines don’t get much better than “Couldn’t hate you if I tried. Believe me, I did,” as far as I’m concerned. And therein lies the true joy of Yalla! It’s a gentle yet spiky record. It’s an album of love, loss and everything in between. It’s a jumbled up mess of emotions and a perfect accompaniment to any Sunday morning, whether you’re just getting in or just waking up.

Yalla is a very honest, funny and ultimately human record that, once you let it into your life, you may never want to let it go. It may not have all of the answers but yalla, yalla. Come one, come all. It may somehow help you to make sense of it all and for that alone Mr White, we are very thankful. Thomas White, who you may know from The Electric Soft Parade, has put all his other music to the side to produce a heart wrenching, coming-of-age solo album Yalla, set to be released March 19th.

The story behind this set of songs is almost what makes the album itself. With six weeks to kill in the Egyptian town of Dahab, the feeling of homesickness set in and the inspiration was there. Within a week and half, these songs were written and recorded on the laptop Thomas wisely decided to take along with him for the trip.

He’s left the studio tricks and clever effects behind and has stripped down his sound to just his soothing voice and a guitar. On the wistful That Heavy Sunshine Sound he talks of the blazing desert sun beating the ground while on All The Fallen Leaves admits he misses his hometown of Brighton.

This frank album is a great way to kill half an hour and be whisked away to the desert; Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls has a Beatles / Kinks sound to it, but the album mainly brings back memories of The Divine Comedy, especially on Lungful Of Air.

Whether it was the Egyptian sun or the feeling of homesickness that brought this on, one thing that’s for sure is that Thomas White should take more holidays.

Q Magazine Electric Soft Parade man’s third solo album. Sometimes you just have to get away from it all to appreciate what you’ve got and when he got homesick during a six week break in Egypt Thomas White began recording songs onto his laptop. Yalla! strips White down to his core, longing for friends and loved ones. It’s far from a dour affair, however, the Egyptian sunshine burning off lyrical gloom. With mostly just his own vocals keeping his guitar company, I’ll See Her Again, That Heavy Sunshine Sound, Lungful Of Air and I’ve Seen The Sunrise bristle with hooks and bustle with an energy White has rarely shown since ESP’s earliest days. It is fair to say that the focus is now fully back on Thomas and his upcoming release. The track King Of The Kingdom has a very tender and folky vocal style over an acoustic guitar line. It is a very personal track which when you start to unravel the lyrics reveal a tender young man. Surely a track to inspire and one which should win him a few new followers! His newest album, Yalla! (Egyptian for Let’s Go!) is released in March on up and coming Brighton label Bleeding Heart Recordings (worth checking out for a range of different artists and bands – especially if you like your music on the lo-fi end of the spectrum) and, to put it bluntly, it’s pretty fantastic! It’s just voice and guitar but without the horrible wetness that can envelope that particular combination and an extended meditation on limbo, moving, melancholy and a little bit of hope.

His voice is sweet and the melodies even sweeter but there’s a folk-blues undercurrent throughout that gives it some sharpness. Plug your headphones and listen – you won’t want to stop. Look out for this one. All The Fallen Leaves takes almost a minute to begin properly, but when it does the honest guitar leads a slow sombre song. The double-layered guitar and vocals of I’ll See Her Again produces a powerful tone to an interesting ballad but shifts in to a haunting gear as it enters the middle-eight.

That Heavy Sunshine Sound has a bluesy folk sound that is reminiscent of Badly Drawn Boy. The open chords played on a slightly un-tuned guitar is an endearing quality that should be appreciated rather than discredited as there is notion that Thomas White understands every intrinsic detail of what he is doing.

Sometimes even the songs are short and don’t say much like Ocean Green, a poignant, Thom Yorke inspired tune. Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls is equally arbitrary. There are times where someone’s silence is quite awkward, and can be tense. Lungful of Air is a tension-building track equivalent to the world’s longest nails being scraped on an eternal blackboard. The music is not bad but at 2 minutes and 10 seconds in there is relief when a natural chord is played. King of The Kingdom is not too dissimilar to an early Patrick Wolf record, an absurd pattern of chords on top of a bizarre song structure.

Thomas White’s vocals in I’ve Seen The Sunrise sounds quite like Alex Turner in The Last of The Shadow Puppets. The solemn verses are in direct contrast to the bright chorus sections, to produce a creative, intellectual song. Diver’s Torch offers beautiful guitar work that continues to float between a major and minor path, yet the lack of direction is focused. The English Sargasso is the longest song and finale to Yalla! The song closes the album in the same way All The Fallen Leaves opened it, in a slow sombre, repetitive pattern.

The greats don’t brag… Thomas White doesn’t need to tell anyone he’s brilliant.

There’s also my thoughts from 2011 when the album was first posted on youtube. Here’s the review with references to the video footage removed (they’re not currently available)

TW October 2010 (Blog Post) “it sounds stupid/clever, embarrassing/glorious, drunk/lucid, big/small, plaintive/overwrought, dour/ecstatic, tight/shambolic and just about everything else in between”

Yalla! is totally acoustic with lots of space for expression…

All The Fallen Leaves reminisces about home while baking in the Egyptian sunshine;

Took a trip out to see a friend, don’t even know if I’ll be back again
The sun beats down, on desert ground and fallen leaves

Images of both places are juxtaposed;

I miss Brighton town, cold wet and brown, all the fallen leaves

Set to lilting guitar resulting in a haunting portrayal of raw emotion. The lyrics are almost taken from the back of a postcard to anyone who cares to listen. Once you get this stuck on repeat, you’re lost in the imagery. There’s so much more of that to come…

I’ll See Her Again is also full of yearning, this time for a love from years gone by. Tender vocals, chiming folk guitar decorated with pretty verse.

I met a girl from Western Isles, I’ll see her again
She made me happy as a child, I’ll see her again
My heart burns, I pine for her return

Senses are heightened as That Heavy Sunshine Sound increases the tempo and sense of urgency. All set against a sunshine haze and the sound of afternoon prayer. The lyrics flow effortlessly…

I am a boy with a crush on a girl who is out of my league and is certainly out of this world
Dreaming of her every night, every day and I’m out of my mind thinking I wanna see her again

Such a beautiful love song until the realisation;

I’ve been here before and I know that it’s all going to find me alone
You were the one and I’ve gone and lost the one
If I could I’d be strong about it but I’m just gone, I’m just gone

On Ocean Green Egyptian musical influences that have been gradually building reach a peak on this song, continuing on Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls. Thomas White has fallen in love with the place and has many stories left to tell; this time one of regret.

Since writing the above more information emerged via Wikipedia: On March 26th 2011, Thomas streamed his third solo album for free via YouTube. Entitled Yalla! (Egyptian for come here or follow me) the album was written and recorded over two weeks in the small town of Dahab, South Sinai. Featuring only acoustic guitar and vocal, the album details the limbo at the end of a long relationship compared to that of moving to a foreign country, making myriad references to the sea, shorelines, water, the sun, colours, the weather, travel and nature. All accompanying videos featured footage taken in Brighton, Dahab and Cairo.

Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls has maybe the darkest emotional content (originally) illustrated with split second clips of colourful beach huts as if to lessen the pain. I think the trip to Egypt may have done just that in itself. Without it, the new Thomas White album could have been very different.

Losing himself in his thoughts and the heat has resulted in a cathartic experience. There’s no crypticism here, instead telling it like it is. Almost too personal to review but the update above enlightens the listener to the simmering undertone of the album.

Lungful Of Air – literally that. A release of pent up emotion/being able to breathe. Just one of many lyrical lines throughout the song snatched from abstract memories and feelings. Those are the mental images you see as you listen.

King Of The Kingdom is full of self introspection:

Put me in a box and told me, find a way out, I just can’t figure how

Out of his mind on pure vocal lubrication… the lyrics an alcohol fuelled slur.

Brings back memories of some of the live from Dahab radio shows (2010) with Thomas slowly becoming more inebriated as the night went on. I suddenly feel drawn back to that time. The experience truly was like entering another world for a few hours.

The desperation hardly disguised:

Everybody’s hungry for something… I’m hungry for freedom, from all the ties that bind the life of the little guy and the king of the kingdom

And here it is, at last: I’ve Seen The Sunrise

The morning after the song before; there’s a very definite reason for the tracklist order. Everything is building up to this moment of clarity when things make sense again. At last calmness descends as the lyrics attest:

I’ve seen the best times, I’ve seen the worst kind, I’ve seen the sunrise, I’ve seen the darkest night
Don’t wanna go back there, to that bad place, I live in the light now, don’t ever wanna change

The words float over lightly strummed guitar as naturally as a boat on the ocean.

Intoxicated – this time by the sunshine – a moment of pure pop perfection.

Diver’s Torch: The musical mood switches to melancholy with choiral vocals, continuing the feeling of peace from the previous song.

Completing the album The English Sargasso is almost seven minutes of indulgence… delicate guitar notes backed with ethereal echo.

Yalla! is his most mature album yet. After reading the blog at the start I couldn’t imagine what it would sound like and without swallowing a dictionary I’ve tried to express the effect it had on me. The listener is most definitely taken on a journey they never expected and left with a very lasting impression.