Not as flammable as you may expect.
"Fire In The Doll's House", the debut release from London-based acoustic folkie, Tom Moriarty, is a difficult record to get to grips with. From the off, he showcases his raw, gruff and smoky voice on the genius title track of the album, equipped with a catchy and unmistakably good chorus, 'there's a fire in the doll's house, let it burn', as he looks to destroy the last traces of his innocence and embody the figure of a strong and mature adult. It is Moriarty's voice that is his best asset, sounding like something that belongs in a 1930s jazz bar and indebted to the gravelly-voiced singers of yesterday from Dylan to Tom Waits. Though it is this powerful voice that makes throwaway and mundane tracks like 'Dance With Me' and 'Where Are You Now?' bearable, with the melody of both songs running into mediocre territory and not revealing the best that Moriarty can offer.
However, 'Smile If You Wanna Get High' is a song that saves some considerable face for Moriarty. It is a song written for the summer, with a kinetic bass line and a brilliant turn from the singer-songwriter on the reggae-enthused tune. Support and delightful juxtaposition to Moriarty's voice comes from a selection of brilliantly adept and tuneful backing singers such as Alice Shaw and Phebe Edwards, gifting his gravelly with some delightful blue-eyed soul. Another highlight is doubtlessly, 'Life's A Mystery' which is a track that in its experiments against traditional blues formulas is more of a triumph than many of the lesser and considerably more ordinary tracks that make up the album. This is further evidenced when put up against a song such as 'Sundancer' with its slow, lilting music and lack of passion and sincerity, proving pleasant enough, but not half as exciting as some of the more passion-filled and experimental tracks that also feature.
On the whole, Tom Moriarty is a bright hope for the future. "Fire In The Doll's House" features some bona-fide and effortless classics such as the energetic 'Stay With Me Tonight' and 'Smile If You Wanna Get High' but it is the overly-laboured and not so original songs that fill this album with such terrible inconsistency and stop this from being a great debut album, it is merely a good and solid one. Let's hope Tom can awaken the fire from within himself and deliver a masterpiece the next time round.