jerome thomas’ “bruises” video is powerful, bloody work

December 7, 2018

Over the last few years, London singer/songwriter Jerome Thomas has proven himself to be a master of smooth, British soul music that sounds bold and new, yet who also has an astute ear for the classics. He’s already collaborated with a fresh cross-section of musicians — Soulection‘s Jarreau Vandal; keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones of London jazz kings, Ezra Collective; the hot young electronica duo, Bondax — but that barely hints at his range. Thomas is one of those vocal and writing talents that elevates whatever record he’s on. And he’s not afraid to take chances.

Which, we have to say, his new single, “Bruises,” very much does. Maybe less the song — a strong blues-guitar- and string-drenched soul tune about desire, whose title is about the pain of heartbreak that Thomas expresses quite clearly (and often, wordlessly) — than the cinematic, Dumas Haddad — directed video that accompanies it. A quasi-colonial, period piece without explanation but plenty of inference, it stars a bloodied Thomas as the prisoner of a scarlet-clad group of people preparing for a murderous ceremony, even as his mind wanders to the love he left behind.

In the midst of the video’s loose plot, the wounds of Thomas’s bloody torso are focal points that transcend it. In the video’s first half, the camera is actively drawn to them. The storyline presents a set of potential narrative explanations for the scars — and the song works as one kind of double entendre — but the knowing eyes of the viewers who’ll watch it, have little choice but to bring a separate perspective. It’s simple, powerful, and potentially triggering work.

“Bruises” comes from Jerome Thomas’ upcoming EP, Mood Swings, dropping in February 2019.