British singer-songwriter, Tom McRae, releases his 8th studio album to coincide with his European tour. Following on from the success of “Did I Sleep and Miss The Border”, the album made with his longtime band, McRae returns with another slice of intimate melancholy and personal confusion with the state of the world. ‘Ah, The World! Oh, The World!’ takes its title from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, McRae’s favourite book.
McRae, former Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominee, made the album in two distinct isolated locations: an old ‘sea-house’ on an island off the coast of Norway, and a cabin in the Catskill mountains, in upstate New York. Both influence the sound of the record. “After Brexit and Trump I wanted to run away, to get some perspective and to avoid the continual bad news”, says McRae. “Britain has had a nervous breakdown and I felt the same. I had no idea how to respond as an artist, in a world on fire do you pour water or petrol? It turns out that my natural response was to write intimate, personal songs to share my despair. So no change there!”
“ I don’t think protest songs work any more, if they ever did, but anything that evokes an emotional response has to have some small effect. If only on an individual. So that’s what I did, I wrote songs to make myself feel better. I suppose that’s what I’ve always done.” McRae took a lap top and guitar, and set about making a record that reflected his immediate environment. “I wanted to record the songs in a more spontaneous way. To capture a live performance and then stitch sounds to those songs, and to allow for external noises to creep onto the recordings that add to the atmosphere. I don’t like records that sound clean, I like to hear hiss and crackles and maybe the odd seagull or coyote. Although preferably not too close!”
Regarded as one of our great singer-songwriters, his sell-out live shows and continued presence in the industry bear testament to 17 years of touring and building a large and loyal audience, mostly by word of mouth. His live shows are an amazing experience, both intimate and raucous at times, as well as laced through with McRae’s self-deprecating humour. The upcoming tour with his trio (cellist, Oli Kraus and on keyboards, Olli Cunningham) will be incredibly special for those lucky enough to get tickets. McRae’s UK tour has already sold out. Says McRae: “I’m really looking forward to the release and tour of this album. After Brexit who knows what’s going to happen? I feel like a citizen of a united Europe, and a citizen of the world. I’m sad that my country voted to leave. We were lied to, and when it happens, if it happens, the UK will be devastated. I will be devastated. I had hoped to write an album that would cheer people up, if the album doesn’t manage that then the live shows definitely will.”