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The Lion and the Wolf – The Cardiac Hotel (Album Review)

The Lion and the Wolf (or Tom George to his mother) is on a trajectory towards greatness. He showed incredible song writing and lyricism within his self-released debut album Symptoms and he’s following it up with second release, The Cardiac Hotel. This tricky second album comes at a time where expectation on TLATW is at an all-time high; he is now signed to Xtra Mile a label that provides a home to some of the UK’s best singer songwriters of which Tom is most definitely one.

As this album opens prepare to open your tear ducts, this is one of the saddest records of the year. Hidden amongst the sadness however there is a layer of positivity which cuts through the sad undertones and humanises the entire release. Lyrically this is one of the strongest examples TLATW has put together to date, he writes openly and the entire record offers a very personal emotional exchange. By the end of this record you will want to give Tom a hug and tell him everything will be alright, although the positive edge shows that Tom knows this already.

If the lyrics don’t start your tear ducts quivering the emotive guitar lines will stoke the emotional fires. This is a record that’ll create a strong emotional connection. Behind the guitars hide haunting brass lines that create an eerie and at times almost ominous feel to some of this wonderful instrumentation. The heartbreak reaches fever pitch almost every time a piano line combines with an emotive crack in the vocals, even reflecting on these musical moments is creating an emotive feeling.

Throughout this LP there are so many wonderful moments where instrumentation creates such measured feelings; the distant vocal on ‘My Fathers Eyes’ allows the musicianship to take the forefront and adds an almost warming sadness to the track. ‘Heaven Forbid’ combines spiralling guitars into a shoegaze style composition which counter balances the vocal style perfectly once more creating sentiment that really hits home. Like any album there are stand out tracks although, unlike most, I believe these will be different for every listener. The magic within this LP is the way it plays out as a complete piece; the compositions soar and drop into each other creating an ever building emotional connection with music, lyrics and vocal which at the end leaves the listener feeling well travelled and wanting to know what happens next.

It is the desire to hear more that always marks a great album, there is no doubt that this is an example of great song writing and delivery. Sometimes in listening to a record there is a feeling that you have heard the start of something huge, Symptoms definitely created this and The Cardiac Hotel has taken a lot from its predecessor whilst adding a maturity developed from extensive touring and writing.

If practice makes perfect we are very close to a perfect release from The Lion and the Wolf.

4.5/5

The Cardiac Hotel is out October 7th via Xtra Mile Recordings. Pre-order your copy, here.