by Guest Guest
March 4, 2010

Since I’m a huge fan of all things folk and eclectic, I thought it would be appropriate to review Tom McRae’s fifth and latest album, The Alphabet of Hurricanes. The album was recorded over a period of three years within a variety of settings and studios, which very much coincides with the many sounds and moods portrayed throughout the album.  McRae is quite the intelligent and talented performer whose sound is as if you were to mold Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, and Tom Waits together.

I found the album to have many layers, from its stark lyrics and bare sound that would occasionally give way to swells of accompanying instruments that lead it to be an album to savor.  The wonderfully waltzing “Won’t Lie,” my favourite on the album, has the spine-chilling chorus “And I know I’m born with a prophet’s curse /  never see the good, only see the worst” that completes the song and gives it the feel of an elusive gypsy.  The first track, “Still Love You,” is simple, bare, and has a catchy foot tapping banjo which balances out the epic and dreamlike “Out of the Walls.”  The track “Can’t Find You” is just McRae and a guitar quietly chasing love lost, which is just simple and heartbreaking.

Having listened to the album many times since its purchase, I continuously am discovering new layers.  The album is a delight as I am still skimming the surface in my discovery of Tom McRae’s music.  The stripped musical arrangement reflects mainly a deep grassroots America, but also includes sounds that could be primarily from other cultures.  It’s the use of mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and violin that gives way to swells of full sound and adding folklorist hues.

In the end, The Alphabet of Hurricanes is one of McRae’s best works. It’s raw and mature, like the sound of a man who has finally found himself.  This album fully deserves:
out of 5 weasels.

- Jenna “Street Rat” Sailer

  1. Still Love You
  2. A is for…
  3. Won’t Lie
  4. Summer of John Wayne
  5. Told My Troubles to the River
  6. American Spirit
  7. Please
  8. Out of the Wall
  9. Me & Stetson
  10. Can’t Find You
  11. Best Winter
  12. Fifteen Miles Down River
  13. Home

The Alphabet of Hurricanes was released by Cooking Vinyl on February 21, 2010

Visit Tom McRae online:

“Please” music video

“Alphabet of Hurricanes” live

Never trust a street rat. Support the artist and find out for yourself. encourages purchasing The Alphabet of Hurricanes locally at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.


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