20 Jul 2024
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Thomas Powers - Album Review: A Tyrant Crying In Private

01 Jun 2024 // A review by Cathy Elizabeth

This stunning 14-track debut solo album from Thomas Powers, of The Naked and Famous fame; A Tyrant Crying in Private is intense yet delicate, holding sadness and beauty in equal measure, deliciously gorgeous in all its glitched and distorted goodness.

Parts of the album feel very heavy emotionally, particularly the neo-classical instrumental pieces, which have a vast cinematic effect. My first thought upon listening to the opening track Little Lungs (Featuring Rob Moose) was “Wow, this sounds like a movie score!” And that thought was only intensified as the album progressed.

The lyrical content is intelligent and self-reflective. But I think it’s the instrumental pieces that say the most with no lyrics at all, at times seeming to carry the weight of all of humanity upon them. The instrumental interludes only become sadder and more utterly bereft as we get deeper into the album, until all seems completely lost in Sensible Anomie, which feels like the observation of the fall of humanity, somehow.

I like how the song titles often feature in the lyrics of other songs on the album, which has the effect of tying them all together. This, along with recurring musical motifs, makes it feel like a concept album of sorts; the concept being the inner workings and emotional journey of the artist. A “what’s under the hood” of Thomas Powers, if you will, who describes the album as his most authentic work to date.

Producing a solo album provided the opportunity for pure self-expression; art for art’s sake. Powers states "I don't care who listens to it, I really don't, I'm just grateful for any audience whatsoever." And we can expect subsequent work from Powers to follow along this vane, as he states that this is a starting point and a way forward for him.

Music is an excellent vehicle for self-expression, and it can be manipulated in many different ways to express concepts and ideas. Powers has used production techniques like glitching and crunching the words that he perhaps does not like to admit. Preston is a great example of this. “You looked it up, the air quality. And my constant state of … apology” and how the track opens up and soars with longing on the line “but I … wanna love you” in such a way it gives me chills. It literally sounds like a heart bursting open with love and longing at that point.

Empty Voices (Featuring Julien Baker) – described by NZ Music Month as “Fragile yet potent” is driven by deep rolling synthesized bass, with layers of glitched up vocals creating a rhythmic symphony, which is very enchanting.

Rogue Waves is a gorgeous string ensemble piece, floating with heaviness upon an ocean of uncertainty, which stops rather abruptly, like being snapped out of a daydream. This is followed closely by The Big Feel (Featuring Chelsea Jade) with the two songs connected both lyrically and musically; “First it’s a black hole, then it’s a rogue wave, it’s always something.”

This is an album full of juxtaposition, as even the title suggests: A Tyrant Crying in Private – the paradox between being a headstrong and ruthless leader, while at the same time suffering from self-doubt and regret behind closed doors.

The beauty in the sadness, I believe, is the healing that is found there; in sitting with it, in expressing it. A Tyrant Crying In Private is a skilfully crafted, intensely soothing, modern-classical body of work. I encourage you to check it out.

 

About Thomas Powers

New Zealand singer, songwriter, and producer Thomas Powers sets himself apart. Stepping out from under the chart-topping success of his indie electronic band, The Naked & Famous, Powers has cultivated a subtle yet cinematic new sound, radically different in mood and intention.

His first single, Li features fellow New Zealander Chelsea Jade and strings arrangements from Rob Moose - both reappearing throughout his debut album.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Thomas Powers

Releases

A Tyrant Crying In Private
Year: 2024
Type: Album

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