Tom Calladine

Cornish-born songwriter Thomas Calladine released his new solo album Each time you go around the sun on Friday 4 March via Cuculi Records.

A prolific writer and talented multi-instrumentalist, Tom began the album’s long genesis when he first moved to Bristol back in autumn 2019. He wrote and recorded an initial selection of songs over six months, then started again a year later, resulting in this charming eight-track collection. It’s typical for Tom to capture the essence of a song quickly; he shares that “recently, when I’ve been writing songs, I’m very ready to get my phone or microphone and get a basic clip.” The album’s atmospheric closing track ‘Starlight’ is actually his first draft demo, recorded after some minutes of getting the initial idea down, with some additional vocals captured near the end. As the sole instrumentalist, he’s looked at the songs from every angle, building up each track in careful, composite layers of guitars, drums, banjo, kora and cello – and of course, his distinctive falsetto vocals, reminiscent of Robin Pecknold and early Bon Iver. “I try to embed quite a hopeful feeling within the songs. ‘Starlight’ is about an experience I had when I was in Cornwall. I picked and ate some mushrooms and stood on a peninsula looking over Plymouth Sound with a friend. We both felt like we could feel the stars coming through our veins. It was like I was in time with them, an indescribable affinity to the cosmos, all my worries coming to null. It was terrifying and beyond beautiful.”

Tom’s lyrics are a gentle invitation to a dreamy abstraction; there’s no single narrative across the album’s eight tracks, but certain themes and moods pop up frequently. ‘Meadowman’ is a free-write, shaped more like a vision than a specific story. It paints a captivating image: Tom describes “the spirit of a meadow coming out by a big mountain range, after lying there for aeons and suddenly deciding to shift and move – the spirit’s time there was done.” It’s a testament to Tom’s inner imaginative landscape that this song, like the others, began to blossom in his Bristol bedroom. In true DIY form, it was entirely recorded and mixed there as well, before finding its way to mastering engineer Theo Passingham. The only other collaborator present is fellow Bristol/Cornish songwriter Pearl Love, who co-wrote ‘Dancing’. It speaks of a yearning for dancing with others within the many hours spent in lockdown, and Pearl’s voice adds exquisite depth to the track within her subtle harmonies. 

Each time… is a conscious move towards simplicity, away from Tom’s history of abstract tunings and ambient soundscapes. He wanted to make something more accessible for himself and his growing audience; the influence of Adrienne Lenker is clear in his ability to say so much with a few simple words and chords. There’s an appearance of refreshing effortlessness throughout the album, which suits his lyrical threads of connection, acceptance and awe of the magnitude of nature. ‘1000 streams’ taps into his fascination with cycles and the concept of reincarnation within nature. “Our DNA acts as a portal to life, speaking through vision and our emotional response. It’s so similar to all flora and fauna – we are so connected to the earth. There’s a lot of peace within that, a reassuring infinity. So many lifeforms are connected by water, and individually each one is quiet, but together they make a big old hum.” His watchful introversion is clearly a writer’s gift, as he sketches out his experience of the world and the universe beyond it, grounding himself in the addictive detail of multifaceted alt-folk arrangements. 

For fans of: Fionn Regan, Adrienne Lenker, Fleet Foxes, Young Waters