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Tom McRae

Tunesmith revels in atmospherics

When Arista Records signed up to release Tom McRae’s debut album they had no idea they would be handling one of the hottest U.K. properties of the year. It shares little with Arista’s roster — “Tom McRae” is a decidedly dark album, heavy on the atmospherics and downer lyrics, yet it is up for the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Prize and made it onto several vest of 2000 critics’ lists in his homeland.

“The thing I liked about the album,” McRae says, now that he’s thinking about a direction for the second disc, “is the tone. It leaves you in a particular atmosphere, a down place. The next one will have a little more variety, a few more tracks with drums or maybe a denser sound. I just always try to write melodic songs.”

Arista issued “Tom McRae” Stateside on Aug. 21 with an assortment of DJs and taste makers already hot to give a leg-up to this talented 28-year-old singer-songwriter; showcase gigs he played in the U.S. in July helped garner airplay on stations such as Santa Monica, Calif.’s KCRW prior to the album’s release.

“We’re looking at a two-, three-week tour in September,” says McRae, “and trying to keep it organic. Rather than hit everyone with a big tour we’ll do this like a constant drip feed.”

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