Here is the beautifully-orchestrated new single from MF Tomlinson. Floating above synths and piano, Tomlinson’s smooth, resonant vocal is utterly absorbing. As the song builds with gently swaying rhythms, an acoustic strum and strings, Tomlinson’s voice is elevated by gorgeously ethereal backing vocals from Connie Chatwin and the rest of the band; this vocal accompaniment transforms ‘The End of the Road’ into something like a hymn, a haunting, sweeping hymn that leads listeners through themes that are bigger than ourselves as individuals. It’s a song about community and culture and what should be important in uncertain times. Partly inspired by Tomlinson’s memories of Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protests, the song is delivered through a dream-like story: “When I went back to Trafalgar Square // There wasn’t anybody there // They had all been dragged away // Later in the evening // Without them there, life had resumed // Nobody seemed to have a clue // Did I dream it up or was it true // That we were really reaching the end of the road?”
Tomlinson says of the song’s lyrics: “It’s about that feeling when you just can’t believe what’s in the news – how senseless and enraging it all is. You think: How is this all happening when everyone is up in arms about it? Where are the people like me and you? That is a very lonely feeling. When you do find yourself deep in a crowd of people resonating on the same idea you feel safe, almost like you’re being held – and you feel powerful. So this is a dream of that crowd, from isolation. Being in opposition of all of the shit that’s going on right now would seem to be an extremely unrewarding task – but yet somehow it’s not. Making generalisations is getting increasingly difficult (it’s one of the great things about our times) so it’s hard to put a finger on, but what I’m singing about, is our culture, our generation. I’m very proud to be a part of it. As well as being a protest song this is a love letter to our culture.”
The video is the third installment in a series of visuals that will eventually accompany the entire new album. Directed and choreographed by Daisy JT Smith, who has worked with the likes of Sam Fender, it is a tremendously engaging piece of art in itself. Her overall aim was: “…to create a living breathing embodiment of the album, using the language of dance and theatre.” What she has achieved is a video that captures the song’s apocalyptic mood perfectly, from the physicality of dragging Tomlinson across the floor to the sight of the band playing beneath dust sheets as if abandoned and forgotten. Towards the end, when the band leave the stage, it is both visually and sonically unsettling, a particularly effective and suitable climax to ‘The End of the Road’.
The song is the latest single taken from Tomlinson’s forthcoming second album, ‘We Are Still Wild Horses’, which is due for release on 17th February 2023. The new record is the follow-up to 2021’s ‘Strange Time’, an album written when Tomlinson still managed to find optimism in the face of the world’s multiple uncertainties and challenges. Now, increasingly isolated, he is looking inwards to find that same sense of hope for the future. New material was written in the dark days of the winter of 2021, unsettling times at the end of a year in which the known and familiar seemed to unravel. These new songs are introspective, thoughtful pieces, in which Tomlinson’s deep sensitivity to the change and loss we have witnessed in recent years is conveyed through incredibly atmospheric music and layered, ambient soundscapes. He says: “At both ends of the album there is an abyss: one is darkness, the other is the unknown. By the time you make it from one end to the other, you find the abyss has been filled up with stars.”
Be absorbed by the video for ‘The End of the Road’ and catch Tomlinson live in London on 1st March; tickets are available here.
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