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Tommy Reilly - 'Gimme A Call'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:24 UK time, Friday, 30 January 2009

Tommy ReillyThe makers of Channel 4's T4 Unsigned Band show would like us all to believe that what they do exists in a parallel (and significantly cooler) universe to the smoke/mirrors, boom/bust, pantomime dame/pantomime horse nonsense of the X Factor. They've even brought in Alex Bloody Zane, just to really hammer the point home.

His presence says "hey, kids, we're on a proper talent search here. Never mind the showbiz flimflam, this is all about grit. It's about REAL PEOPLE playing REAL MUSIC to OTHER REAL PEOPLE (and Alex James, who is clearly SURREAL PEOPLE)."

The irony of course being that everyone involved in the show is so keen to prove that they exist outside of the rules of normal society - they are really creative, actually - that the very last thing you could ever call them is real.

To make matters even more confusing, Tommy Reilly actually is a real person, and not just because he can play a guitar and write his own songs.

Here's the video. Cute, innee?

The thing which made him stand out from everyone else, then and now, is that he clearly isn't putting on a show. He's just a nice fella with a guitar, who writes songs the way other people write diary entries, and then sings them intensely, using his nice, cracked little voice. There's no attitude, no sex, no assumption that there is a media game to be played, no suggestion that he will Change The World or become Relevant or Important. Hell, he hasn't even got a silly name like Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Now, this is possibly an act. Showbiz does sometimes throw out these curveballs. It's like Seasick Steve talking about the times when he lived under a bridge more than he talks about the times when he had a nice comfy bed to sleep in, even authenticity can be jazzed up a little bit.

But even if it is, he's doing a much better job of it than a good 90% of confessional singer-songwriters, some of whom will have been too proud to enter the competition in the first place. Take this song, which manages to breathe new life into the well-thumbed "why don't you ring me? It's because you hate me, isn't it? ISN'T IT?" song. A song idea which is so well-established the Feeling have already done it twice.

And yet, the way he pleads, the fact he speeds up in the choruses, the fact he's unafraid to slip from gentle balladry into outright shrieking at moments of high emotion, the total lack of slickness in his delivery, it all goes to prove that he's kind of undiscovered treasure that even Alex Zane has a right to be smug about.

And I hope you know I do not say such things lightly...

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: November 3th

(Fraser McAlpine)

PS: Y'know, all the way through the programme, I couldn't escape the nagging suspicion that I'd seen Tommy's face somewhere before. It took me AGES to figure out where...

Tommy vs Eminem



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