It’s a funny twist of fate how you can pick up an album, hit play, then tie that album to memories for the rest of your life. Every time you hear that album your body reacts to the memory; your mind is transported back.
2006’s Under the Iron Sea is forever tied to very specific memories for me. Naturally, when Keane went on hiatus in 2014, Tom Chaplin’s first solo album in 2016, The Wave, drew my interest and as enjoyable as it was, it felt it was missing something. That something is about to be rectified…and then some.
Tom Chaplin’s forthcoming record Midpoint departs Keane and his prior work. It steps confidently into what is and will be known as Tom Chaplin. The prophetic, yet simplified tones of the new record grab on to your heart strings and refuse to let go.
Within the first minute of Midpoint (produced by Ethan Johns), within the haunting echoes of “All Fall Down,” as if paying penance in musical confession in a grand hall, Chaplin establishes what may be the most important single minute of his career to date. Bleeding with authenticity, heartache, and second chances, the record becomes defined by hope and a sense of realism that absolutely shines within the thirteen tracks. As the album progresses, tucked tightly into nuanced layers Chaplin weaves in and out of a new sense of self-awareness and a world defined in decades past by McCartney (see “Black Hole”). Whimsy and echo are tethered to piano and subdued orchestral movements throughout, but do well to never take off into an uncontrolled or unnecessary trajectory. The cathartic release that is Midpoint, in both lyrical prowess and instrumental composition, feels as though it was made for Chaplin himself; we all just get revel in the enlightening direction this world-class musician has taken.
As Midpoint winds down, returning to the atmospheric piano in “Overshoot,” it is worthwhile to reflect on the sobering, emotionally stirring weight each track carries. For a musician who could record whatever he wants, that could as easily crank out an over-produced/compressed sound, hit the road for a year, and come home with some new spending cash, Chaplin took the road less travelled and we can’t applaud him enough. Midpoint is unequivocally the most authentic Chaplin we’ve experienced and it absolutely shines. Stirring emotions that will draw from various past experiences within you and leave you mesmerized within the record. Tom Chaplin turns a new page September 2nd on BMG.