CD Review: Rychard Carrington reviews As Others See Us - Tom Conway

Tom Conway: As Others See US
Local Cambridgeshire Artist


Following on from the thoroughly satisfying Now It’s Your Turn, Scottish-born Cambridge-resident singer-songwriter Tom Conway has produced an even more satisfying CD, As Others See Us.


Tom is a writer of refreshing emotional maturity, down-to-earth perspective and inventive wit. This enables him to sing about emotional topics without sounding clichéd, and about unusual subject matter (for instance Quick Call, about cold calling on the telephone) without sounding frivolous.


Tom's vocals have a somewhat world-weary, stoical, sardonic, slightly melancholic flavour. They are appropriately supported by accomplished acoustic guitar, or, on occasions, by electric guitar with something of an early sixties pop flavour. 


Lyrics being central to Tom’s appeal, examples might serve usefully. For instance those of the opening track, Attention At The Back, in which Tom lays his cards on the line:


I could easily list the ways

My sad existence dogs my days

It sours the higher purpose that I serve

But if I did then I suspect

That you would simply press eject

And shut my whining trap like I deserve


But self-indulgent though it seems

I’m still inclined to chase my dreams

Of chasing immortality in rhyme

So let me just enlighten you

About a little trick or two

I’ve been around this block two or three times


A Grain Of Truth – which boasts a particularly nice guitar arrangement -  is a typical Conway song of experience, :


I wrote my name on a grain of truth

But it’s been through the mill

I hope my mind will become refined

But I know it never will

Now I don’t try to use my loaf

I sell it by the slice

And my poor conscience doesn’t even

Think about it twice.


And all the foolish notions I once harboured

Got suppressed by the winds of change

The things that once were blinding revelations

Are so much junk I have to rearrange


As is We All Have Days Like That:


Now once again Vincent was quite worse for wear,

His colours so vibrant, did anyone care?

No sales, no commissions, no glory or fame

And ne’er e’en a centime, a franc to his name,

And Gauguin sat him down and he gave him a smoke,

And looked at him square in the eye as he spoke

And boosted his will with some words of resolve

He had heard himself so many times


We all have days like that,

It’s a trial and a trauma, a task and a chore,

A war of attrition, a drag and a bore,

And when it’s all over we come back for more.

We all have days like that.


In Lonely Old Guitar, Tom is chastised by his neglected instrument:


They finished me with such great care

And put my decorations where

They knew that I'd be bound to catch your eye

But now it seems your love's gone sour

I sit through every silent hour

And I even need your touch to make me cry


Worry not, however, for Tom cheers up in no uncertain terms on It Feels Good To Feel Good (‘Just one cup of coffee and I cartwheel through the door’ – blimey!) before rounding off nicely with a lovely ambient instrumental, Rope Of Sound.


Numbers worth getting to know, certainly. A collection of consistent quality; not a duff track on the album. All in all, a fine album. Nice one, Tom!


(album available from Tom Conway's website)


Writer: Rychard Carrington