When 32 year-old Tokio Myers won this year’s Britain’s Got Talent, students were quick to ask my opinion, and like many, I was undecided about his music, but blown away by his story.
Now Tokio returns to the public eye with the release of his debut album…
The Story So Far
Aged 11, Tokio (real name, Torville Jones) witnessed the shocking murder of the headteacher at his North London school, Philip Lawrence, in an infamous and horrifying incident that shook the British headlines for months. Young Torville was led back into the school by his music teacher.
Developing his own love for music, and overcoming both prejudice and hardship, he eventually studied music himself – at London’s world-famous Royal College of Music. But his own musical journey was not about to settle on a classical piano career, as his appearances on BGT demonstrated.
Having enjoyed his live performances, in which Tokio combines piano playing with sampling technology and controllerism, I was unsure how his gift and musical personality might develop.
Here, for those who missed it or need a reminder, is that winning BGT performance, in which Tokio performs his own mash-up combining Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack with Rag ’n’ Bone Man’s hit song Human:
But that uncertainty I felt – and any doubts – have been put to bed by the release of his debut album Our Generation, out today on the Syco label.
The album takes us on a journey that begins with a heavily treated solo piano, and takes us through a wide variety of musical genres that encompass laid-back electronica, downtempo, alternative R&B, and at its heart, Tokio’s often virtuosic, always deeply felt piano playing.
Some of the tracks include vocals, supplied by Ed Sheehan, Paloma Faith and J’Danna among others. Most of the material is credited to the writing team of Craig Dodd, Guy Farley, and Tokio Myers himself.
There’s also covers of Ed Sheehan’s Bloodstream, Angel by The Weeknd, and Robert Miles’ Children.
A pop album of this kind could easily seem terribly “manufactured”, cashing in on the backstory and initial popular appeal generated by a television contest…
But that would be entirely unfair in this case – from the first note it is clear that this is Tokio’s show. That compelling musical personality that so many fell in love with from his TV appearances is not simply present here – it is expanded and given the space to flourish and shine.
With outstanding production throughout, blistering electronic soundscapes and cutting-edge processing, Tokio relishes in the creative potential that a huge sound palette offers. The music is at times epic, then by turn reflective, stirring, mesmerising, and touching. The pacing and musical selection is pitch perfect, and I was gripped by the range and quality of the music.
Tokio is one of those artists who has the ability to inspire a new generation to take up the piano, and for that we all owe him.
And while this isn’t an album that will appeal to the tastes of all of my readers, I am pleased to say that Our Generation significantly exceeds my expectations. Check it out!
Our Generation is available to stream now on Apple Music and elsewhere, and to purchase from Amazon and iTunes.
Pianodao is free to all, but funded with the help of reader donations. Regular supporters can enjoy additional benefits by joining online piano club The Pianodao Tea Room