Article by KevW
Much like the New Acoustic Movement fifteen or so years back, alt-folk and alt-country have got themselves rather a bad name in the past half decade or so, and while much of this can be put down to certain acts over-commercialising acoustic music, it would be unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. Admittedly this new single from London-based Thom Byles is likely to get spoken of in the same breath as, say, Bon Iver, but it's worth remembering just what a big compliment that actually is, and also that it's not his fault that the charts are now flooded with people like Ben Howard and Ed Sheeran. To put this in that same bracket as those would be doing it a massive disservice.
'The Great Outdoors' does touch more upon the sounds of the American wilderness than anything British (perhaps due to his Mexican roots?), but as a song (and Byles writes, performs and produces the lot) it's does have a hint of magic and knows how to find the timbre and atmosphere required. Also, with repeat plays, you begin to notice there's more here than meets the eye; different layers begin to peel themselves back, leaving something more than just some moreish harmonies and a full sound that's never too cluttered. Perhaps simple on the surface, 'The Great Outdoors' has plenty of hidden depths as well as being really quite beautiful.
Tom Byles' website
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook