The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album Words On The Floor by Tommy Reilly

Review Snapshot: The debut album from Orange Unsigned Act Winner Tommy Reilly adequately shows his tremendous songwriting maturity, cleverly expressing his thoughts about 'never getting the girl' in a frank and honest way.

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Tommy Reilly Words On The Floor

Full Review:
So, Tommy Reilly. Yes, he won Orange Unsigned Act after originally being told by Jo Whiley that he "wasn't experienced enough." And yes, he is a talented singer-songwriter. But what's that Robin? He's not joining the "worlds-skinniest-jeans-in-indie" competition or adopting overly emotional, almost fake tones in his music? Joyously, he isn't.

Having been put through his paces on Orange Unsigned Act, most notably writing the excellent “I Don’t Like Coffee” at very short notice, Reilly has proved he can definitely deliver. In fact, this album clearly shows it.

Opening track “Grab Me by the Collar” effectively conveys Reilly’s emotion, capturing the heart of adolescence with cries of “Am I supposed to be in love/Cause that’s what everyone else does.” There's almost childlike vocal ornamentation which, if anything, adds to the sense of adolescent confusion and fear apparent throughout. The song ends in a blitz of anarchic drum beats and guitars as though breaking away from the sense of fear that seems to engulf the rest of the song. Essentially, "Grab Me by the Collar" is the perfect introduction to this album.

The title track "Words On The Floor" begins acoustically, with only a guitar and Reilly's lilting Glaswegian singing voice. After the first verse is the inclusion of a piano, which makes this track especially atmospheric. This coupled with the vocal tracking is both striking and powerful. Beautifully, towards the end of the track Reilly's lyrics are almost lost in a haze of emotion.

A definite key track on this album is "Having No One." There is an additional backing vocal which makes the song quite emotive. Once again expressing his dissatisfaction at never getting the girl he sings about "The team designed/To strip me of my joy." It's a sombre yet memorable lyric - and let's be honest, everyone likes a dark lyric or two on an album. Towards the end Reilly appears to be crying out in desperation due to the feelings of loneliness, it's a frank and clear display of how he feels.

Ultimately, "Words On the Floor" is a brilliant debut album. The emotion on this album is in abundance but definitely isn't overwhelming - everything's in perfect measure. Though on some tracks Reilly seems to sell himself a bit short, it's all par for the course. I have a feeling there's a lot more in store for Tommy Reilly..

Aideen O'Flaherty

  • Tommy Reilly plays the Twisted Pepper in Dublin on the 6th of October.

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