Erm, yeah, so I’m about a year late with this one but only as I’ve just got hold of a copy. Toby was the frontman of one of my favourite rock bands of the 90’s The Little Angels. The band reformed two or so years ago for a string of dates and were every bit as good as I remembered.
Toby, as with the other guys from what I gather, kept himself very busy once the band split up and stayed well within the music scene. Moving into production as well as recording and touring on his own material, he’s done pretty well for himself. So much so that the December tour had to be cancelled in light of other commitments. Hey, when you’re pretty much running your own business, being too busy can only be a good thing.
Anyway, Toby’s last release was the six-track Raising My Own Hell in December 2013. It was written and recorded by the man himself, and recorded with a small band including Dave Kemp on saxophone and accordion. Dave did work with the Angels as well, back in the day. Rounding out the numbers are Matt E on drums and Roger Davies on bass. There are definitely come keyboards on there as well (especially noticeable on “Dear Mama”), but I’m not sure who’s talented fingers were involved with them.
First things first, this isn’t a Little Angels album. It’s not LA part two, but it is a damn fine slice of rock. Predominantly acoustic guitar led, the tracks vary from the surprisingly heavy “Dear Mama” to the more lilting “Shoes”.
“Patience of a Saint” (to which Kemp can lay claim to some of the writing credit) straddles the line between the two. Closer “Shadow Boxing” is a little unusual – a funky number which you could imagine kicking your feet to can-can style at the end of the night. Very brash and brassy in places.
While it’s always easy to link artists to their earlier works, Toby’s gone out of his way to to his own thing rather than carrying on the Angels as a one-man act. Even his voice has changed somewhat over the years, though there are some notes that do have your brain playing tricks on you and reminding you of days gone by.
Raising My Own Hell however is the present (well, the more recent past), and it’s a cracking little collection of songs. Not for the completist, as such, but certainly one for fans of the light rock genre. There’s enough here to whet the appetite for a live show, certainly. So… when will those gigs be rescheduled…?