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Bird On a Wire

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Album Review

Toby Lightman has definitely done some maturing since her debut came out in 2004. While her voice still has the same rich qualities that gave Little Things so much promise, with Bird on a Wire she's moved away from poppier, drum-machine-friendly songs to country- and R&B-laced music that not only continues to show off her voice — a mix between Shelby Lynne, Pink, and Norah Jones — but her skills as a songwriter as well. It's a fun album that explores different genres without losing its overall focus, much in part thanks to production work from Bill Bottrell (who did Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club, as well as Lynne's I Am Shelby Lynne) and Patrick Leonard (who's worked with Madonna, Rod Stewart, and Natasha Bedingfield), both of whose influences can be distinguished on practically a track-by-track basis. The Bottrell-produced lovely "My Sweet Song" is pure Patsy Cline, while Leonard's "Round & Round" is full of attitude and radio-friendly rock hooks à la M!ssundaztood. No matter the position Lightman is taking, from brokenhearted to independent, it's her voice, strong and versatile, that carries the album along. Her excellent, emotional harmonies work well with the lush string arrangements that are found on much of the album, and the keyboards and bluesy guitar rhythms add a nice soulful element to the modern adult rock, as if she would be as comfortable in Ryman Auditorium as she would at Madison Square Garden. She moves from slower, introspective ballads ("One Sure Thing," "I'd Be Lost") to confident and assertive anthems ("Overflowing," "Don't Wake Me") without losing stride. Bird on a Wire's an impressive piece of work from a talented artist who's grown completely into her voice and herself, subtly complex while still retaining the passion and immediacy that makes it such a good listen, touching listeners emotionally as well as intellectually, a feat that's truly hard to attain and absolutely deserves to be praised.

Customer Reviews

You’re a Flower Blooming in the Desert Sunshine

Sadly, Toby Lightman’s debut album was overlooked, but now she’s back for another try with a vastly improved and more mature sound. But Bird on a Wire doesn’t stray from the blue-eyed soul of her first outing. The opener Don’t Wake Me starts off with a gospel feel that turns funky quick drawing you into the album. Then Don’t let Go struts along and will make you tap your foot without realizing. Throughout the album, the songs take you on different journeys like with Tripping which is reminiscing of the girl group era of the sixties. Round and Round lives up to its title as Lightman builds the song up only to have it come crashing down just to build it back up again. The acoustic guitar that starts off Alone sounds like a sped up version of Ryan Adam’s version of Wonderwall only to morph into a rocker that wouldn’t be out of place on a Michelle Branch album while Holding Me Down starts off much like Devils and Angels from her last album, but then goes into a different direction.. Overflowing bounces along like something you make have heard in a cabaret. Where Lightman shows off her voice is when she slows things down and strips away and softens the backing musicians. On songs like My Sweet Song and One Sure Thing it sounds like she’s channeling Ella Fitzgerald but still makes the songs sound modern at the same time. Then there’s Better which could arguably have the best bass line of a slow song in recent memory aside from Crazy by Gnarls Barkley and Toby’s toned down voice on the track blends perfectly with it. The album closes with two songs, I’d Be Lost and Good Find, that should be listened to at night with the windows rolled down while leisurely driving. Hopefully for Toby Lightman the second time will be the charm.

Rock with Soul

Her first album, ‘Little Things‘, was fabulous and with the release of ‘Bird on a Wire‘, her 2nd album, Toby has proven that she's definitely one of the rising stars in the music industry. The album starts off with a soulful; gospel sounding intro to 'Don't Wake Me' and it just takes off from there. If you can manage not to sing along with 'Don't Wake Me' then you have more will power than I do. ‘Better’ brought a tear to my eye and ‘Holding me Down’ will have you turning it up loud enough to annoy your neighbors. Do yourself a favor and give this girl a listen, I promise that you won't be disappointed.

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Bird on a Wire is the first album I have listened to straight through upon purchase in many years, I could not escape this wonderful recording. This is a fantastic effort from Toby that will not disappoint in any way. These tracks will stick in your head! This work fits all moods and entertains the soul, I just love this glimpse into Toby's world and you owe it to yourself to experience this vastly under-rated artist. Toby's Bird on a Wire should not be missed, it will make you a better human... honest, it will.


Born: 1978 in Cherry Hill, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Toby Lightman studied violin growing up in New Jersey, but it wasn't until college that she began to seriously consider a career in music. She studied radio and television at the University of Wisconsin, learning guitar in her spare time and singing with cover bands. After school Lightman moved to New York, where a fortuitous meeting with Wyclef Jean led to him producing her demo. The tape caught the attention of producer Peter Zizzo, who helped the young songwriter develop a light, marketable mix...
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Bird On a Wire, Toby Lightman
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Customer Ratings