October 15, 2020
Three years after his critically acclaimed debut Walkin' On Air, the ultra-talented Finnish songwriter, producer and arranger Tomi Malm of Fly Away – The Songs Of David Foster fame returns with his sophomore effort, titled Coming Home. With this album, Tomi reaffirms himself as one of the most incredible talents of his generation. Coming Home presents another flawless collection of pop, soul and fusion numbers, delivered with the help of some of the world's most gifted musicians. The quality music includes songs mostly written or co-written by Tomi who definitely pleases the refined music lovers that have worn out legendary records like Boz Scaggs’ Middle Man, the late Al Jarreau’s Jarreau or Steely Dan’s Gaucho. The Northern European wizard is in top form on this new release that showcases his creative genius through inventive arrangements and top-notch production that would make David Foster and Jay Graydon proud.
A catchy instrumental, "Second Wave", opens the show with a breezy feel that harks back to those lush records by The Love Unlimited Orchestra.
It is the second track, "Come Away", that allows the album to start firing on all cylinders. Gifted singer/songwriter Bill Cantos gives a magnificent vocal performance and shines with his piano playing on this beautiful mid-tempo pop tune. Cantos is supported by former Toto drummer Simon Philips, the late, great Dan Warner on guitar, Lars-Erik Dahle on bass and Luis Conte on percussion. Background vocals provided by ZoSia and Sunho Lim.
The first ballad heard on Coming Home is "When You’re Gone". It sports a beautiful melody combined with a bittersweet atmosphere. The song features the soulful voice of Swedish singer Andreas Aleman and the trademark Rhodes of Robbie Buchanan, a great producer/arranger.
"Are You Real" comes next and what a treat it is for all the Westcoast music lovers. The arrangement instantly reminds the listener of a cross between Steely Dan and Pages, featuring stunning vocals handled by Norway's national treasure Ole Børud. The rhythm section features John Robinson on drums, Neil Stubenhaus on bass, Tim Pierce on guitar and Tomi weighing in on keyboards. A jazzy masterpiece that is definitely one of the highlights of the whole album.
Next is "Without You Saying A Word", an unreleased composition by the legendary Jeremy Lubbock and sung by the incomparable Marilyn Scott. The rarefied feel of this ballad is truly breathtaking and Tomi's evocative arrangement does justice to Mr. Lubbock’s genius.
The feel-good mid-tempo track "Two Hearts" offers a nice change of mood and brings the listener into Earth, Wind & Fire’s pop/soul territory. Jerry Lopez, who co-wrote this composition with Tomi, sings the lead vocals. Among the players appearing on the arrangement are the Yellowjackets' Jimmy Haslip on bass, Joel Taylor on drums, Tollak Ollestad on harmonica and the soulful Fat City Horns.
After the soulful and bouncy "I Got You" sung by the great Frank Ådahl, which features a stellar sax performance by Eric Marienthal, comes the title-track ("Coming Home") which is an absolute show-stopper. Tomi, with the help of co-writer Michael Haddad, creates a tune with a magical atmosphere that could easily come from one of those classic pop/rock albums by The Eagles or America. Haddad's vocals are right on target and the instrumental track of "Coming Home" is pure ear candy. Just listen to the song's coda with a spectacular solo by Toto's axe-man, Steve Lukather, backed by a rhythm section handled by drummer Joel Taylor and bassist Jimmy Haslip. Be ready to get lost in the glory of those timeless sounds.
On Coming Home, Tomi also offers a different side of his talent with a few fusion instrumentals. The most interesting is "Free Fall". This tune is a pyrotechnic jam that develops like a journey into the best jazz/fusion music of the seventies with great rhythm changes and incredible performances all around. There are echoes of Pat Metheny, George Duke, Dave Grusin and Weather Report on "Free Fall". This tune is a showcase for Tomi who plays various keyboards, guitar and piano supported by Alex Al on bass, Lolo Álvarez on guitar, the Urban Soul horn section, Luis Conte on percussion and the fantastic drumming of Vinnie Colaiuta.
Retuning to the pop songs, there is another adult contemporary ballad, "The Time Is Now". Written by Michael Haddad, the song features a precious vocal by the late, great Warren Wiebe in a duet with R&B songbird Wendy Moten. Again, Robbie Buchanan offers his Rhodes playing that gives the track a classic flavour of the most-loved ballads of the eighties.
Frank Ådahl comes back to co-write and sing "Dream On", an atmospheric number that gives him plenty of room to shine with his unique vocals. Another intricate arrangement enhanced by the great work of John Hammond on bass, Lars-Erik Dahle on bass, and Porty and Peter Friestedt on guitars.
The following song, "Leave It To The Girls", is a ballad co-written by the legendary Burt Bacharach with Tonio K. What a thrill it must have been for the Finnish music-maker to work on this unreleased composition co-written by one of his heroes. The result is a dream of a song that sounds so unmistakably Bacharach thanks to a gorgeous and respectful arrangement. Ashton Moran beautifully sings and is supported by enchanting backing vocals courtesy of ZoSia, Jeri Lynne and Sunho Lim, all certifiably great singers. A fantastic solo courtesy of sax player Nick Vintskevitch is also added to the mix.
Randy Goodrum, another source of inspiration for Tomi, co-wrote and sang "Hearts In Phase", a delicate, acoustic ballad that closes the album in style.The short and sweet of it: Coming Home is a true masterpiece. A must-have for quality music lovers. Tomi Malm is a musical genius and multi-faceted talent that is a joy to observe on this new project. Get Coming Home and enjoy a great master class of astounding music!
This album is dedicated to the loving memory of Dan Warner