Album: Make Yourself Known by Tom Craven

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 Tom Craven’s latest release comes with a heft of American influences that make its melodic rock sound unique, sweet, and enjoyable, with few incidents… but maybe too few.

 Tom Craven is a Milton Keynes-based singer and songwriter whose pure, acoustic songwriting style is tried and true, with a result that’s infused with his very unique way of singing that ends up acting as a glue that holds his body of work together. An artist with a unique vision and a sound that sticks out among the crowd. On Craven’s latest album, Make Yourself Known, he brings forth a healthy collection of songs boasting a healthy runtime of 41 minutes, and among the track listing, we easily can pick a handful of songs that make a lasting effect on us.

 Having been in the making on and off throughout the last decade, Make Yourself Knows sounds remarkably solid and cohesive, a hallmark of how Tom Craven’s sound has been solidified and defined for a long time. Hardly a surprise when we know how active of an artist and performer Craven has been, extensively playing tours of California and the UK for well over a decade. Recorded over a period between 2020/21, while recovering from the tribulations of the Covid lockdowns, Make Yourself Known is an album for honesty, self-belief, bravery, and resilience, in Tom’s own words, “an album that hopes to instill a sense of peace, positivity, and excitement in all who care to listen”.

 The album’s starting song, Let It Fall (My December), is an anthemic rock banger that’s full of upbeat, melodic sensibilities that carry over to the rest of the album. The song’s driving, 1-chord vamp is rich and empowering, in tune with its lyrics, and its musical turnarounds are sweet and invigorating. The following Hidden City has a vein of bittersweet melancholy running through it. With its ripping guitar riffs and its rhythmically steady flow, the song sounds influenced by some of Guster’s more gutsy numbers, especially with the snappy, organic-sounding mix, and the dynamic arrangement that ebbs and flows with the song’s sections. One of the album’s most unforgettable moments without a doubt.

 New Signals is a ceremonial waltz that would work magic in weddings. The song’s wealth of melodies and its familiar chord progressions make it one of the easiest musical environments to get immersed into throughout the album, and its slow tempo, laid-back instrumentals, and long length do well to serve that immersion. Secondhand Smoke (Same Jeans) is a short piece of guitar-based riff rock that injects some highly needed energy after the lengthy, down-winded New Signals before a couple more slow waltzes come our way. A Change in The Papers and Catalyst are sweet-sounding songs that are easy to get into and sway to if neither of them feels momentous enough to live in the shadow of New Signals. Needless to mention that the three songs offer distinctive lyrical topics that make each of them a viable piece of music that’s essential to the context they are put in, making actual comparisons between the 3 songs falter without making much sense. A terrific, piano-driven instrumental adorns A Change in The Papers and makes its midsection one of the album’s most outstanding moments.

 Sleep is a dynamic piece of playful, optimistic rock with crisp-sounding rhythm guitar and tasteful rock organ lines that play well together off the bouncy synth arpeggio that runs throughout the song, keeping it all bound together in one of the album’s jumpiest and sweetest listens. Then The Game Inside gets things back to earth again with a piece of ripping, jangly rock that’s melancholic and pounding, bringing a bit of balance back after the soaring optimism of Sleep. A shout-out to Truffles. One of the most enjoyable, albeit shortest, pieces on the album. With its crisp and skeletal, overdriven guitar riffs, this short interlude is a breath of fresh air.

 Make Yourself Knows manages to inject a lot of life into Tom Craven’s acoustic compositions and the output is an album that’s sensible, melodic, and easy to get into. After a couple of songs, we start to feel a connection to Craven’s words and to his way of singing them, a connection that lasts until the last song on the record. Tom’s sensibilities are lively and engaging, and what he brings to the table on his second, full-length studio release is definitely worth a listen.