Tommy Ashby’s EPs were played, written and engineered by a team of Surrey students*.
I think it is music of exceptionally high quality. This is no-gimmicks stuff: great lyrics, great performances, and great sounds. It’s not for your Nathan Barley types.
What strikes me most about it is the way in which the urge to decorate the songs with quirky, synthetic bleeps or novel plug-ins is resisted, and much to its credit.
A generalisation for you: In so much music of this kind, the authors resort to such techno-laden strategies, and I’m not one to say that there isn’t anything wrong with that – it often makes for a thrilling listen – but it’s sometimes applied without sufficient justification and can mask or interfere with otherwise beautiful music…
…just because one can doesn’t mean one should.
It is for the reasons outlined above that I feel compelled to make a case for it. To put it bluntly: nothing sets this music apart, save for the level of craft.
The songs are unpretentious and penned with virtuoso restraint, and their conventional instrumental context speaks volumes for the songs’ lack of want for flattery. That’s not to say that the surface of the music isn’t pristine; in fact, the production style embodies a Nashville-esq dedication to fidelity- though admittedly, it’s a tad more ‘twee’.
Overall, this is excellent, dignified and uncompromised music. Moreover, its occasionally chirpy feel and its light hearted ‘packaging’ modestly masks the sheer sophistication at its heart.
*To my knowledge, the only non-Surrey-students who worked on the EPs are vocalist, Cynthia Quek and Jenny Double.