A father-and-son team from Epsom in the U.K. seems an unlikely prospect to be the next big thing in pop music, but Tumbler seems poised for just that. Father, Richard, and son, Harry Grace, began the project not quite knowing where it would go. With folk-driven pop style and production by Dave Needham, Tumbler released You Said on September 14 and it is already gaining buzz. From pop to blues to indie folk and even a little punk, You Said is a well-produced mélange of styles with something for every musical taste.
Richard Grace names his first musical inspirations as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and taught himself blues and rock guitar as a teenager. He pursued music as a career until a health scare with his wife grounded him for a number of years. Grace made sure to raise his children, five boys in total, around the musical sounds he loved as a teenager and young man. Grace’s love of the blues and folk greats of the 60s and 70s was particularly strong in his youngest son Harry, who as he grew older expressed a real interest in music as a career. Richard saw in Harry the talent, charisma and drive to create a viable music career. Grace decided to give it another go, this time for the sake of his son. Thus Tumbler was born.
Father and Son began writing and performing songs together and over the course of their practice came up with enough material for an album. They met Dave Needham quite by chance, as he ran a small studio in their hometown of Epsom. Needham’s production and mastering skills were just what the Graces needed to polish up their sound and make it pop quality. Released in September, Tumbler’s first album combines Richard’s blues and folk roots with Harry’s indie style and pop panache.
The first single released off You Said is Break or Fall, a Harry-styled pop ballad which will certainly get the attention of the industry. Beautifully constructed with input from all members of Tumbler, the music of Break or Fall is well-suited to introduce Harry’s flawless vocals. While a fun and polished pop intro, this track is not necessarily representative of the whole album. Many of the songs are more nuanced and contain indie or folk-based tunes with lashing of blues and pop vocals.
You Said’s lead track, Moments, has a northern U.K. folk musical style but Harry’s vocals here have a twinge of both folk and indie. The tone and timbre of his voice could be mistaken for Ian Brown of The Stone Roses or Love Spit Love-era Richard Butler. The same is true for Sleepy Bananas are Cool, a song which seems to be a little silly and whimsical but also makes a point about spoon-fed media and the big entertainment business. Businessman Blues, on the other hand, is a very strong blues tune combined with punk rock irony, rancor and politics in the lyrics.
With such a hodgepodge of styles, it is difficult for a new group to achieve the level of polish and balance as Tumbler has. With Richard Grace’s music experience, Harry’s talent for both vocals and writing and Needham’s production and mastering skills, Tumbler has pulled this diversity off with a great amount of balance and quality. With something stylistically for everyone, You Said holds great promise for Tumbler in pop music and beyond.
Review by Layla Klamt
Soundcloud.com: Tumbler “You Said”
Tumblermusic.com: Tumbler “Albums”