Fremantle blues-rock outfit, Tom Fisher and the Layabouts are due to launch their third EP, Spend A Little Time, with a run of shows starting at Mojos Bar on 15 February. With the first single from the EP, ‘Old Man of the Blues’, winning the band a WAM Song of the Year gong last year in the Blues n Roots category, we were already squirming in our seats waiting impatiently for the rest of the tracks.
There’s something about the songs on Spend A Little Time that grabs you by the heartstrings and pulls you in close for a kiss on the lips.
‘Old Man of the Blues’ is a great song. When it was released, we said, It’s a stomping good traditional blues number that delivers the goods and then some! Augmented with some wicked harmonica from Bill Rogers, the track sees the band in fine form, neither layabouts nor old, just hitting the sweet spot and holding it there for the full three minutes.
When the rest of the EP landed in our in-box, we were a bit hesitant. What if they’d already fired their best shot? So, we parked it for a while. And then we went deaf, so we had to wait just a while longer.
When we finally got to listen, first cab off the rank was, ‘Don’t Cry.’
‘Don’t Cry’ is a stone-cold fox of a song. It’s FM-radio-friendly blues rock at its very best and wouldn’t be out of place alongside artists from yesteryear, anyone from The Rolling Stones to, a bit left-of-field, Tom Robinson Band. But it doesn’t have a even hint of nostalgia about it, it’s the very embodiment of timeless. Listen to it now, go back in time and listen to it then, fast forward to the future and listen to it again, either way, it’s a classic!
There’s something about the songs on Spend A Little Time that grabs you by the heartstrings and pulls you in close for a kiss on the lips. They leave you feeling sated, just a little bit sultry and wanting more. Yeah, yeah, please give me more!
Title track, ‘Spend A Little Time’, builds out of a hammered-on blues lick and then kicks into the sort of country-rock song that fills stadiums in the US.
Fisher told Around The Sound that his song writing is inspired by, “…life observations. People, friends, family members experiencing the trials of life is a theme running through it for sure, and my take on those situations I guess.” He didn’t say he writes specifically about personal experience, but if he does, he’s taking it extremely well. The lyrical content of ‘Spend A Little Time’ is typically sad and lonesome, but the track itself rollicks along well enough to dry your tears.
‘Burn House’ dials back the intensity for just a moment, letting Fisher’s southern-whiskey tinged vocals come to the fore. And then it blows up into a full-on sing-along anthem complete with ‘Na, na, na’ pre-chorus and harmonies aplenty. If only we had a lighter …
‘Sunny’ takes a little walk on Van Morrison’s side of the road. ‘Sweet Aunt’ builds on a riff that’s so familiar you could swear you’d heard it before. That’s because you have, but that’s the thing with rock and roll, everything old is new again. And, when you can do it as well as Tom Fisher and the Layabouts can, borrowing from the canon you’re continuing isn’t just paying your dues, it’s absolutely essential.
Closer, ‘Come On Home’ is, again, instantly familiar. The riff, the vocals, the lyrical content. A thousand rock musicians have given us their take on the theme of ‘home’, so why not these guys?
This song, this EP (should be an album!), finds Tom Fisher and the Layabouts right at home. They’ve found the honey in the tree and gorged themselves on it until all the sweet sugar fermented into all this music.
If Spend A Little Time doesn’t see Tom Fisher and the Layabouts make a crack in Perth’s musical glass ceiling, we promise to quit doing this ATS thing.
Talking about what’s next, Fisher said, “Essentially we are a live act. We travel a lot and have a bunch of fun festivals and shows to announce post tour. An east coast run as a full band this winter is on the cards and then we’ll be knuckling down and writing some new tunes.”
Let’s hope that gives them the momentum they need to get these songs in front of the audiences that deserve them. FM radio here they come!
Spend A Little Time tour dates
15 February, Mojos Bar
16 February, Bassendean Hotel
21 February, Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
22 February, Six Degrees, Albany
More information here.