Updated: Jan 29, 2021
"Years Gone By": Avantdale Bowling Club
Produced: Avantdale Bowling Club
Album: Avantdale Bowling Club
‘Let’s hear it for the boy crawling on the floor/ in an Orwellian Estate Hall he walked/ in ’85 he ran, in ’86 we flew/ from a kingdom united to a land in two.’
The opening track from Tom Scott’s 2018 Avantdale Bowling Club album is nothing short of an ode to life that celebrates endurance and hope in the face of dislocation, trauma, hardship and addiction. In two blistering verses and with the backing of a phenomenal band, whose frantic and free form voice gives the song a cinematic energy, Scott deconstructs the narrative of his life until the birth of his first child. On ‘Years Gone By’, he taps into the details of memory, building his life in Avondale with specificity and a blinding array of internal rhymes. The clarity of each year that he raps about is matched only by the skill he employs to tell the story. In some cases, the year sets up the proceeding rhyme as it does in this section-
1990, I was a plumber with a pipe dream, side of screen, Hunting for mushies that were lime green, lightspeed To '91, that was the year I met this girl and fell in love Her name was Chun, and then we jumped, Jumped, jumped in bootleg pumps.
These densely packed rhymes, along with unexpected line breaks and the jazz instrumental infuse the song with a pace that mimics a life flashing before the listeners eyes. This is the genius of Scott’s writing, in a single song he can evoke the feelings of a jaded older man looking back on his life with ‘glassy eyes’ and yet inject every line with enough frenetic energy to remind us how fleeting it can all be. It is fitting that the song starts and ends with birth, just as the album does, representing the cycle of existence and showcasing Scott’s ‘rebirth’ as a father. ‘Years Gone By’ is an odyssey within an odyssey, it is an abstract for the rest of the project with an intense focus on the lyric and on narrative. The song rewards any open listener who is willing to be swept along by Mara TK’s haunting vocals, Julien Dyne’s furious symbol hits, Jong Yun’s incredible opening sax solo and of course the excellence of Tom Scott’s performance.
Avantdale Bowling Club’s self-titled album is a masterpiece in storytelling and Hip Hop-jazz innovation and with several projects on the horizon, there is so much more to come from Tom Scott.
Years Gone By (LIVE)- https://open.spotify.com/track/3m4WfEXWDr12EwMxUHsMWP?si=dGyiMXlXRAKOyuxT70JQJg
MC: Tom Scott
Piano: Guy Harrison
Drums: Julien Dyne
Saxophone: Jong Yun Lee & Ben McNicoll
Flute: Jong Yun Lee
Bass: Tom Dennison
Tabla: Manjit Singh
Backing Vocals: Mara TK