Recommended Tracks: “Letter Song”, “Uncontrollably”, “Little Joys”
Artists You May Like: Tom Odell, Vance Joy, Billie Marten
Tom Rosenthal is a name with a global audience and the talent to prove it. Almost a year since the release of “Flourishing”, a sensational up-beat single to keep people going after the rather unusual year that was 2020, Tom has released the hugely moving and emotive album, Denis Was A Bird under his own imprint Tinpot Records.
The album was created to remember and reflect on the death of his father, Denis. With eleven tracks in total, I feel Tom has captured the varied emotions one experiences whilst experiencing grief. The collective album is a feast of Rosenthal-trademarked happiness and reflective melancholy, all coming together in a beautiful bouquet of emotion.
“Now You Know”, the lead single, is an emotive piano ballad which sets the tone for the rest of the album, in which Tom explores the feelings he encountered in the last few hours of his father’s life. Speaking about the song Tom says, “A lot of artists when talking about their forthcoming work will typically say “this song is my most personal work to date etc”, but I can safely say my work will never get more intimate than this song. It recalls the hours/days before and after my dad’s death”. This theme carries throughout the entire album: Tom has shared that “Denis Was A Bird is an album of songs reflecting on the death of my father, who died from Parkinson’s disease two years ago. I very much didn’t want this record to be a doom album, but rather I wanted it to be a reflection of the process of grief, which has many euphoric and uplifting moments too. So the album starts with a very intimate song telling the story of the day my dad died, and it ends with a more ethereal concept of him being a bird.”
Written in the context of Tom’s recent loss, the album has a number of awe-inspiring songs. For instance, “Walking Up The Hill Again” is a song many people will relate with if they had a recent loss in their own family, or even grieving with the loss of a relationship. The words, “there’s a lot of things I don’t know about you” ring true to me when listening to this — it’s a song with an underlying motivation to make whoever listens have a reinvigourated zest to get to know those they may have limited time with; it’s an ode to being present and respectful. The album, produced by Fryars (Mark Ronson, Lily Allen, Mika), is a collection of beautiful melodies progressing into bright, uplifting songs with a 25-piece choir, who feature throughout the album. Most notably, they sing abundantly in “Uncontrollably”, and “Little Joys”.
Normally, most albums have filler tracks; that’s hard to find in Denis Was A Bird, which might seem hyperbolic. However, the culmination of artistry which is Denis Was A Bird is truly beautiful with perfectly written songs and instrumentation to accompany it. One of the most interesting song concepts Tom has created on Denis (aside from Watermelon), must be the “Letter Song”. According to a recent Instagram post, “The song is mostly composed using bits from old letters that my dad sent me. My father never had a phone or computer so the letters are all I’ve got! The song was written from his perspective as if he was sending me one last letter.”
It’s very hard not to review this album song-by-song, as it is built of songs which can stand alone as great creations. “Uncontrollably” contains anthemic music, jubilant choral singing, and a hint of spoken word (and anyone who uses spoken word in any mainstream track deserves some respect in my books.) After a few listens, I found myself singing along – a sign of a truly good song. This can be said for the song, “Denis Was A Bird”, too — it’s reminiscent of the works of poets Luke Wright and Kev P. Gilday.
Rosenthal is a champion of the powers available to an independent artist, and a true artist in his most honest form. With songs that have the ability to speak to people from all walks of life, it’s easy for one to instantly become an avid listener and eagerly anticipate the next steps from this talented songwriter.