TNT Music – Pieces
Despite one hundred fifty miles of physical distance dividing them, Joy Tolbert and Tim Toz have managed to conjure some genuine magic via their long distance collaboration. The latest songwriting result from their work, “Pieces”, touches on pop, rock, and even light country influences while never pandering and managing to deliver genuine significance with Tolbert’s lyrics and engaged phrasing. The production handles a diverse array of elements with an unerring ear for balance, yet it innately understands how to focus the duo’s musical firepower in such a way that it makes the greatest possible impression. These are two experienced musicians and songwriters doing what such people do – entertaining audiences by making high art out of the familiar. “Pieces” will kick your ass from speaker to speaker while still providing a stunning invocation of passion capable of touching even the most hardened of hearts.
Tolbert’s vocal styling, specifically the phrasing, and her well-turned yet eminently accessible lyrics are the emotional engine driving this musical train. Toz’s work as an arranger and multi-instrumentalist are crucial, make no mistake, but this would be merely a wildly entertaining instrumental without Tolbert’s contributions. Her voice is, likewise, quite fascinating. She has hints of dueling gifts. On one hand, she has some real blood and fire in her voice coupled with a commitment to push her chords into moments of white knuckled heat. Tolbert, however, also has ample technique to spare. She finesses her way through the verses focused on the aforementioned phrasing and reading the words with an eye towards emotiveness and enunciation.
Toz’s arrangement is quite dramatic, moving from a swelling keyboard introduction and subsequent blast of guitar, before the song settles some and an acoustic guitar enters. The low fi six string axe continues running in the mix throughout the song’s entirety and the heavy-handed, but swinging, punctuates the melody with one crescendo after another. The guitars have a skyward-reaching, almost anthemic vibe while embracing a distinctly modern sound. The sound, however, is a little sterile and the light phasing applied as an effect robs it of some much needed warmth.
The song’s lyrical content is grounded in a quantifiable reality – Tolbert deals in specific details while leaving other details vague enough that the listener can form their own conclusions. Such command over the process doesn’t come naturally – only the experienced and talented know such gifts. Tolbert expresses herself with confidence, even when she’s testifying about falling apart. It’s qualities like this and the aforementioned merits that help distinguish “Pieces” as one of the more interesting modern pop songs to emerge this year. TnT Music is a rare coming together of two unusually sympathetic talents and Tolbert’s bluesy virtuosity as a singer deserves a much larger stage that this duo will provide. When and if you decide to purchase “Pieces”, you’ll be buying a piece of music sure to entertain you but, moreso, reach a place in your life where it will strongly resonate.