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Little Things (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

It's fortunate that Toby Lightman's vocals are so strong, since it's all that she can do to be heard over the electronic burble of her debut LP, Little Things (Lava/Atlantic). Peter Zizzo's production is furiously contemporary, with programmed percussion, intermittent string sections, shrill electric guitar, and layered vocal collages (of both Lightman's own voice and supporting harmonies) often choking the subtle acoustic chords that run throughout the record. About the only thing missing from the shallow bag of studio tricks is "Robo Toby," the processed vocal effect made infamous by the Matrix. Luckily, the young singer really does have a huge voice. Comparisons to Nelly Furtado and Lauryn Hill are valid; Lightman's phrasing is perfect and her singing's throaty and sassy, even if her lyrics are the usual mix of aw snap empowerment, romantic woe, and dear diary soul-searching. She's mature and confident over the light contemporary R&B of "Leave It Inside" — is that a Mary J. Blige influence? — and the processed poptronica of "The River" gives her some strong material as well. But Lightman's vitality really shines through in "Everyday," which finally, mercifully strips away the accompanying instrumentation to a simple and refreshing acoustic guitar line. The song suggests what Lightman might've sounded like before her tunes were shoehorned into the blatant and unimaginative MOR arrangements that clutter Little Things. They have pop hooks, sure, and the busy, ingratiating "Devils and Angels" or "Frightened"'s tasteful Dido-isms should appeal to casual listeners content with a pretty melody and a comfortably non-threatening smattering of not quite here, not quite there instrumentation. But Little Things' strict adherence to the now sound — as in what is destined to be so yesterday — doesn't give Lightman a fair chance at building an identity.

Customer Reviews

Acoustic tracks are best - we want more!

If I could, I'd give this 3.5 stars. For a rookie effort, this is really an oustanding effort. At $7.92, it's a real bargain for listeners! Still, I can't help thinking that Toby could benefit from a different production style. The bonus acoustic tracks on this album -- Devis and Angels; Leave it Inside -- are clearly the best material on this collection. Her vocals are clear, deep and rich. The songwriting is substantive. So why all the synth drums and over-produced background noise? No need for such nonsense when you're dealing with such and obvious talent.

What a voice

If only she could have had some raw, soulful production to match her raw, soulful voice. I feel she probably excels live and unplugged. In fact her acoustic tracks a very well done. Still there are some other tracks worth getting, my favorites are "Coming Back In" "Leave It inside" and "The River". I can see her potential. Hopefully her sophmore release will show some maturity.

Wow - this is RAW talent !

SO looking forward to Toby's next album..... This is one of my favorites. If you have a chance to see her live on tour - she will make you feel every note.


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...
Full Bio
Little Things (Bonus Track Version), Toby Lightman
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Customer Ratings