STOCKTON-ON-TEES songsmith Tom Joshua grew up with a wealth of inspiration around him – the industry, the history, the landscape – all of which he’s channelled into his debut EP, Undergrowth, which is out now.
“I’ve always considered the skyline you can see from the flyovers between Stockton and Middlesbrough pretty epic and unique – you have miles of industry, stretching out to the coast, met further along the way by some massive hills,” he says.
“The contrast of the landscape feels thoroughly Teeside: both bonny and rough in equal parts.
“I love where I live. It’s a rousing group of towns to be from. Each song on the EP was sort of committed to a location near to where I live.”
Even the genesis and initial writing for the EP is rooted so firmly in Tom’s everyday. He says: “I work in a restaurant five minutes from my house. Last autumn my boss let me record some live songs in the backroom on the piano in there.
“I wrote [EP track] ‘This Still Life’ on that piano so it was nice to give it some
love; keep him involved.
“This Still Life’ is about a few different moments from the last few years. Times when I’ve had a moment of clarity or peace, a feeling of alienation or discovery; moments where I feel a small part of something much bigger.
“It’s mostly contemplative and the chorus was written about a moment I had in the alleyway behind work looking at the sky next to the bins.
“I wanted it at the end of the EP because it feels like an ending song, like a song for the credits.”
And he’s released an absolutely beautiful live session version of “This Still Life” in the round, at the piano, with a quartet, in which for me the true resonance and emotion of his songwriting rings out like a bell; his voice on this, well. Just take a listen.
Watch for more from Tom as he details the Soundtrack of His Life with us next Thursday morning, which comes with a handy Spotify playlist: from Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem to Oliver Coates and Nick Drake. Make a note in your diary!