Tom McShane

Tom McShane


"Tom is in the company of those meta-sad acts that have graced the Domino label, like Bill Callahan, Elliot Smith and Will Oldham� a steady voice in a landscape of shrill amateurs." Stuart Bailie - BBC Radio "Tom makes his underconfidence & fragility the stuff of high art" NI Music Magazine


The Belfast-based Tom McShane's first foray into songwriting was an eventful one: "My mum had an old classical guitar� recalls McShane. "When I was 13, She told my sisters and I that the first of us to learn 10 songs could keep the guitar. But I was never really interested in learning other people's songs so I wrote 10 of my own. It was cheating, I guess, and the songs were terrible but I got the guitar. I still write most of my songs on that guitar."

Other songwriters began to take notice of McShane's songwriting ability after his debut lo-fi release, 2003's "Songs Are Sad" was a bona fide "underground" hit - indie-darlings Oppenheimer covered Tom's achingly beautiful "Don't Call Me" from that record and put it on their debut for Bar None Records.

Tom and his band have played a string of profile raising gigs with White Hinterland, Holly Golightly, Malcolm Middleton, Arab Strap, Hal, Nel Bryden, Fionn Regan, Iain Archer, Nad Navillus (Songs: Ohio) and Duke Special including performances at the "Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival", the prestigious "Belfast Festival at Queens", where he supported Damian Dempsey and the Northern Ireland: the Next Generation festival in Brixton.

June 2008 saw the release of a split 7" single with local indie stalwarts, Escape Act. The track, called Fighter, has received rave reviews with BBC Radio Ulster calling it "his best release yet - a tantalizing glimpse of what Mr. McShane has instore for us in 2008" and Zeitgeist calls the track "a real treat...for fans of Will Oldham or Bonnie "Prince" Billie."

Tom has received airplay on national and regional radio stations alike, including live sessions on Tom Robinson's BBC 6 Music Evening Sequence show and Radio Ulster's Across the Line.


Fighter (2008)

Tom McShane's "Fighter" is a bejewelled and brassy confessional of a life lost. The song explores the depths of potential unfulfilled without pathos, revealing the consequences of ignoring the muse that drives us.

"I admire those songwriters who tell complex stories compressed within as few lines as possible" comments McShane, "and that's what I aimed to
achieve with Fighter. It's about the contradictions of a character who is brave enough to get in the ring but too cowardly to face himself."

Tom's partnership with the world-class Start Together studios, based in Belfast's new artistic hub, The Oh Yeah Centre, and his close relationship with producer Rocky O'Reilly (Oppenheimer) served as a lens to bring Tom's studied yet beautiful melodic sensiblities into brilliant focus.

Departures (2007)

The band are on fine form here, from the driving rhythm section and lead guitars of the up-tempo opener, "The Fall of Burning Leaves" through to crashing, wave-like climax of �A Personal Narrative��. There�s even a tasty cameo from Duke Special associate R�a Curran who contributes some sweet, sweeping trumpets to �Guide�. "The Open Letter" is the only song on "Departures" on which the band does not appear. Tom recorded this track at home and it recalls the lo-fi magic of "Songs are Sad".

Scene at the Citadel (2005) two-song single release
Tom spent 2004 rehearsing and gigging with his newly assembled band. This single contains their first recordings together and sees Tom expanding and intensifying the Songs are Sad aesthetic. These tracks were recorded and engineered by Dave McCullough at Cellars Studios, Belfast and serve as a tantalizing hint of what�s to come.

Songs are Sad (2003)
Tom�s first release, a lo-fi affair (these songs were recorded by Tom on an eight track in his bedroom), showcased the strength of his material and his skill for arrangement and in the process won him considerable critical acclaim. Here Tom set out his musical stall, veering from the simple to the sophisticated within a song, frequently within the same verse, using his sparse arrangements to great effect, always pitching the mood perfectly.

Set List

Fall of Burning Leaves
The End of the Summer
Private Rooms
Scene at the Citadel