“Live at Spiritual documents one of the most vital performers in the UK today. Now, at last, everyone else can discover what we’ve known all along – Tom Hyatt is the next great talent in British songwriting.”
— Folkroom Records
Live at Spiritual is a record in the purest, boldest sense. Without overdubs or overproduction, it’s a single-take crystal-clear capture of an undiscovered singer/songwriter, laid bare. Placing you amongst a small gathered audience one summer night in Spiritual Bar, Camden, Live at Spiritual puts you right into the thumping heart of London’s live music scene.
Suddenly, an explosive voice soars over a propulsive, percussive guitar; rattling lyrics recounting a Friday night metamorphosis in The City’s Sleeping. Without pause, the spotlight turns on us in Lost in a Dream: “I only wanna live in / A life that’s not a living / If you believe me now / We can get there somehow”. A passing motorbike provides a one-off harmony in a dynamic blues that recalls the acoustic rawness of Neil Young; a one-man Led Zeppelin.
Photo by Todd MacDonald
Long Time Coming introduces Maya McCourt (Various Guises, Dana Immanuel) on cello and Tom Lees (arranger for Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro) in a wistful ensemble track, before the piano takes lead to deliver the silver-screen heartbreak Celluloid Dream, and transforms our little Camden bar into a grand-tier box at the Royal Albert Hall. Something Inbetween and City in the Clouds (together an upcoming studio-recorded single release) further the uneasy romantic themes: concise picture-postcards showing the lyrical precision of Jackson Browne; the dreamy musings of Nick Drake.
Finally, we reach the hurtling conclusion of the set, the show-stopping Free Falling, where the Echoplex guitar-work of John Martyn meets the raw reflections of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Of the song, Hyatt says, “I found myself cut loose: out of university, out of a relationship, and slightly out of my mind… but that’s always a good vantage point to snatch a true glimpse of the way things are. Performing, the guitar feels out of control, driving things forward – whether I like it or not! As a songwriter, the best songs can be a record of situations and later remain for others to use too. This is me figuring out that you can’t fly without falling first”.
Photo by Todd MacDonald