MICHAEL TOMLINSON is the main man in the sorta-solo project MF Tomlinson, in which he plys a very neat line in indie folk/roots songcraft with a grainy bearhug of a voice.
Australian by birth but based in London, Michael has just dropped the video for “Strange Time” a song very much about the upending of now: “If God exists, it seems the world is really ending / The sky is red with flames and now there is a plague.” (And don’t the Australian bushfires seem so long ago? Nope. This year.), Quiet cities; lockdown saxophone practice (“The neighbours ain’t happy – but then again who’s really happy.”
An understated groove with a little Bill Callahan in its DNA comes packaged with psychedelic visuals courtesy Tomas Jefanovas, which you can watch below. It’s a tale of the world we live in played with rhetorical understatement and wry humour; a little smile askance.
It’s the first music he’s released since his debut Last Days of Rome EP back in March and unsurprisingly was written slap-bang in the middle of the year on a stripped-back home studio set-up.
Michael says: “Lots of things started to click, not just in terms of the songs but on a deeper level – it was a time of immense growth as a writer. I felt a new level of freedom in the music I was making.
“‘Strange time’ is the phrase that you can’t escape these days – it’ll come up in almost every conversation you have.
“It’s a purely autobiographical song, in a world so bizarre that it almost feels like writing in character. I was driven, almost to an unhealthy extent, to get this song out. As things shut down I felt I was sinking into a sleepy, anxious, twilight world that these languorous chords seemed to capture. I just had to find the right words.”
The words didn’t fail him when he really needed them, nor the muse herself for his forthcoming six-track debut LP of the same name, which will be with us in the new year.
Oh – in a time when so many of us are struggling, all proceeds of sales of the new single over at Bandcamp go to supporting grassroots venues during the pandemic. That’s a lovely touch; we’re gonna need them.