It seems like the planet unexpectedly tilted on it’s axis over the weekend, as if it had just remembered the time had come for a change of seasons. As we Australians are prone to do, complaints about the cold and the rain have begun to trickle through social media feeds and ignite the fires of mundane small talk. Maybe you’ll resort to snuggling in bed with your loved one, or perhaps will resort to spooning with a couch that can hug your single ass instead. Maybe you’ll pack up shop and traverse Europe for a couple of months to ‘discover yourself’, or just begin saving money like a mad person for Splendour.
Whatever you do, when it comes to soundtracks for these chillier months there’s nothing like the comforting tones of folk music to warm the soul. While there are many talented folk (pun intended) who fit the bill, Tom Stephens is a fellow you need to listen to pronto.
As we all begin to retreat under thick blankets from the biting cold, Tom Stephens offers a winter warmer perfect for the fireplace with Down To Rest.
The last time we heard from Stephens was back in 2015 when he released What Lies in the Difference, a follow up to his well received 2014 EP Embers. It was an EP soaked in layers of self-discovery and themes of metamorphosis. Appropriately the phoenix that emerges from those smoking ashes is Down To Rest, which see Stephens take a bold step away from the indie-folk that defined him on his previous release. While his previous work was minimal in its production, Down To Rest has Stephens spreading his wings sonically to give his empathic narrative a greater depth.
Retreating to record on Julia Jacklin’s small farm in the Blue Mountains, Down to Rest is the second single from Stephens’ upcoming album. The single was recorded with his Phantastic Ferniture bandmate Ryan Brennan (wouldn’t you know it, Julia is also the vocalist in Phantastic Ferniture). Down To Rest is very much a folk song, the narrative element of his songwriting is the driving force here as it ever was, that element being the core makeup of all folk music.
Speaking about the single Stephens recalls: “Down to Rest tells the story of a weathered marriage only maintained through the sense of duty that comes with building a family and keeping up appearances.” That idea of restlessness comes across well with Stephens’ bolstered instrumental arsenal. The addition of percussion, piano and electric guitars reinforces Stephens’ performance, allowing him to instil a greater sense of drama as he continues his tumultuous exploration of the self.
What we are left with is a song that is both assuaging and engaging with its story. One of Stephens’ strengths is his ability as an empathic songwriter. More than just capturing his own feelings, he is able to project this tale of loss and identity like a pro.
You catch Tom Stephens launch Down To Rest on Friday April 8 at Captain Cook Hotel, Surry Hills alongside special guests Mike McCarthy & Lady Lyon. Tickets will be available at the door for a cool 10 dollarydoos. If you’re willing to brave temperatures below 20 degrees be sure to get down.