Smiling Toby feels the love
It’s hard to deny that glow. Whether it’s the shimmer of motherhood — or maybe just lack of sleep — combined with a plain sense of knowing she’s where she should be, there’s something calm and joyful about Toby these days.
The singer, songwriter and guitarist has been a fixture on the Perth music scene for well over a decade. Known for her passionate melding of blues and roots via a handful of other styles, Toby is celebrating the release of her sixth full length album, Nobody Told Me.
The release also coincides with the recent birth of her first child, Angus James, with her partner Amy Papalia also managing the business side of things. Life is good, and it’s why Toby can’t keep from smiling.
“When I’m on stage I feel lucky, ” she says. “Since having a son, I feel lucky again. I get to do what I love and get to watch people dance, enjoy and cry when I perform songs I created. I love to create those feelings between us and the audience. I’m a mum and I’m rockin’ this gig. How cool is that.”
That ability to be a mum and then hit stage signals a shift in songwriting from dramatic break-ups to deep, satisfying love.
“That has really made me step up and realise it’s my time now. And those two hours on stage are totally my time and I make the most of them.”
In-between touring, Toby recorded Nobody Told Me in Seattle’s Bear Creek Studio with producer Ryan Hadlock, whom she chose for his work with one of her favourites, Brandi Carlisle. Hadlock has since risen to wider attention for working with the Lumineers and Vance Joy.
Nobody Told Me’s 10 tracks have marked a slight change for the songwriter. Still packed with emotion, Toby describes the collection as having more happy songs but also letting go to write from other perspectives.
“My strength is storytelling but I am realising it doesn’t always have to be my story, ” she says. “I always thought the most authentic emotions could only come from singing my own stories.”
Toby is much-loved for putting on shows which are passionate and energetic, whether it’s a small group backing her or a 10-piece.
European and Canadian audiences have fallen in love with the Perth player and her music over a good decade of touring when the singer committed to finding audiences outside Perth.
In the past seven years she’s played about 120 shows annually and racked up about 830 shows.
That’s a heavy schedule and the consistent return touring in Canada and Europe has paid dividends. Gigs in both places are more plentiful, requiring many trips and resulting in a dedicated fan base who love to party with the artist.
“When I can sell 500 tickets to a nice venue in Europe, that’s success, and if I can sell enough of each album, that’s also success, ” she says. “My goal is to make each show a musical experience. It’s not just the music. Everything has to entertain you.”
Toby launched Nobody Told Me at Fremantle Arts Centre on February 21.
Purchase the album at itunes.apple.com
© The West Australian
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