British singer/songwriter Tom McRae's melancholy debut album frames the small-town lad's ample discontent with somber melodies and stripped-down instrumentation.

British singer/songwriter Tom McRae's melancholy debut album frames the small-town lad's ample discontent with somber melodies and stripped-down instrumentation. McRae cries for distance from the familiar, preferring to run from his perceived destiny on such tracks as "2nd Law," "I Ain't Scared of Lightning," and "Untitled." The set's most complete track, "Bloodless," finds intensity in a piercing vocal laid over an ambient melody. McRae's lyrics are at times cleverly scathing, as on the haunting "The Boy With the Bubblegun": "If words could kill/I'd spell out your name." Confronting his frustrations, McRae's tender voice rarely achieves the anger of his words and often conveys an innocence that belies his emotional depth. Without a viable single on the album, McRae isn't courting radio rotation, but word will invariably spread of this promising newcomer.—SB

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