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CD Reviews: Toby Lightman
Toby Lightman: Little Things
April 2004
By: Lauren Jonik (
album cover of Toby Lightman's "Little Things"

As Toby Lightman's voice glides over the anguished lyrics And I'm going to meet you / I'm going to greet you / At her back door as you're coming out / Oh why this now, in her debut single, Devils And Angels, the disappointment of discovering that all that glitters isn't gold is palpable--- these are not words she is just singing, but feeling--- ones that aren't just heard but experienced. With the release of her first album, Little Things, on Lava Records in March 2004, Toby Lightman offers a glimpse into her world with twelve blends of R&B, pop and rock that are personal enough to tell unique stories, yet universal enough to be instantly relatable.

Like suddenly noticing through the curtains that the dawn has broken and the morning light is bringing the day, Leave It Inside is a declaration about moving forward and embracing the ever clean slate. I think it's time for a change / 'Cause I'm tired of these games / I'm going to leave them inside / Cause I'm alright on the outside. The ballad Frightened exposes Toby Lightman's range as both a singer and a songwriter and demonstrates that one's true strength is only as great as her willingness to be open and vulnerable. I'm frightened by the love that it's in you / But it's alright / I'm frightened by the love that it's in me, but it's alright. . . With you everything's beautiful / And, I'm not scared to be / Falling into unknown / With you I find the strength to carry on. In the swiftly flowing The River, Toby challenges Are you gonna sink or are you gonna swim? / Cause I'll take you down to the river. . . but you're going in.

Influenced by artists as diverse as Ella Fitzgerald, Madonna, Mary J. Blige and The Roots, Toby Lightman pours warmth and soul into every note she sings, bringing both spiritual and lyrical clarity to the surface. Each song on Little Things was either written or co-written by Toby, who enlisted the talents of guitarist Niles Rodgers, who played guitar on several of the songs, including Devils And Angels. While Toby's musical journey began early in life--- she began playing the violin at age six---it wasn't until her teen years that she realized her considerable vocal talent. A special moment of epiphany came during her high school graduation when her rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water moved the audience to tears.

Love and attraction in their many forms find a place on Little Things. In Coming Back Toby sings I'm singing the words I don't have the strength to say / And I am thinking about the courage to let me walk away. . . and muses upon the power an oh-so-good-but-not-good-for-you lover has over her thoughts. In the instantly catchy Front Row, Toby ponders pursuing getting to know the "man in the front row," but acknowledges to herself that he doesn't know her for who she really is. . . yet. You don't know where I'm from / Where I belong / All you know is my name / And you only know what you see / And that really isn't me / But I'm glad that you came. Ending the album the lazy, pleasant mid-tempo Running Away, Toby sings We'll be laughing until our tears run dry and our silence fills the air with a smile, again revealing that her music has the power to do the same.