‘They don’t make them like the old days anymore.’
How many times have you heard that?
By your parent. A DJ. Or an old guy at the bar leaning over a broken jukebox?
Beyond sentimental nostalgia for the ‘good ole’ ’70s and ’80s, music did feel different then. Without sounding like the old guy in a bar, the radio would have shuffled you through a broad variety of rock, pop, soul and 24 hrs a day. A regular and popular inclusion would be the sunshine sound of American summers from bands like 10cc, Dr Hook or Steely Dan possessing you to sing along without a thought or care of what they looked like, or if they have Instagram! The radio was an open box of sunshine, surf and love.
So where is this monologue going?
Directly to Finnish songwriter, producer and arranger Tomi Malm‘s recent album Coming Home. Coming Home feels like a return to those special times.
Don’t get it twisted; this is not a tribute album or tired attempt to recreate the past. Tomi Malm is a harmonically lead artist/composer with a real love for layered musicality, rich percussion, and soulful voices. This album packages the sunshine past with world music sensitivities.
Available on vinyl via Bandcamp, the album presents a collection of soulful/pop and jazz fused numbers, featuring distinguished vocal performances from; Bill Cantos, Marilyn Scott, Randy Goodrum, Jerry Lopez, Ole Børud, Andreas Aleman, Frank Ådahl, Ashton Moran, Michael Haddad, ZoSia, Maeva Borzakian, Wendy Moten and Warren Wiebe.
One could almost generalise this as a ‘blue-eyed’ soul album. However, there is a lot of jazz coming through the instruments, often in expansive and enveloping arrangements, comparable to EW&F productions.
Like a river, Jazzy soundscapes flow beneath this collection of sixteen tracks, weaving gracefully under Tourbillion De Vie or majestically surfacing in the jazz-funky Second Wave. The African rhythms and voices of Na WeWe (With You) make a delightful change in harmonics before travelling into a colourful synth-galactic fusion of Solaris.
Swedish soul man, Andreas Aleman shows his powerful vocals on the dramatic – When You’re Gone, in a story of learning to stand again after love. In contrast, love is found and told in the soft, 80’s rock glow of the albums title track – Coming Home.
Marilyn Scott‘s scintillating vocals are deeply engaging on the jazz single – Without You Saying A Word – and creates exquisite listening. The keys twinkle like stars on this loving ode.
Uptempo lovers will also enjoy the catchy and sumptuous grooves of Two Hearts (dazzling Harmonica by Tollak Ollestad), I Got You and the groovy – Are Your Real featuring Norwegian star Ole Børud.
Never one to complain about a long-playing album, I have to make a small exception here. Listening to all ‘sixteen’ tracks in succession, I found my attention drifting, so the frantic instrumental energy of Free Fall was ideally placed towards the end to awaken the senses – all 10 minutes of it! Perhaps it’s a sign that even when you have a lot of good things to say, sometimes less can still be more.
Tomi Malm, however, does prove good music never gets old with an album of tonal sunshine and intricate, intriguing melodies – with and without love’s bewildering storylines.
If you want to make someone happy, play or buy them this.
And there’s an old guy at the bar who will thank you too.
Released on October 15th, 2020
Coming Home feels like a return to those special times when the radio was an open box of sunshine, surf and love.