Bitter-sweet songs of love from a mature viewpoint
There appears to a vibrant music scene in Northern Ireland at the moment with a few young singers and bands slowly coming to the attention of the radio stations and publications across the Irish Sea, but some of the slightly older generation, like Anthony Toner, still needs a push in the right direction.
Anthony Toner is/was a journalist; that will never see 21 again and has supported just about every ‘name’ act to visit Belfast in the last 10 years. This is his fourth album since 2002 and it sounds like a man that has found a writing and singing style that he’s finally comfortable with and ‘to Hell’ with trying to be cool!
Toner writes about what he knows and it’s apparent that he knows what it feels like to be rejected as well as being an observer of human behavior. That said, even his saddest songs sound as if he has a rueful smile on his lips as he sings ‘I lay my pearls of wisdom before her/but after ten minutes they just bore her back to tears’ in East of Louise; which just happens to be one of the finest songs I’ve heard this year.
Still Unsigned will resonate with anyone who had (or still has) a favourite unsigned band and is written from the point of view of a teenage girl having the time of her life then meeting a boy who kisses her before telling her ‘she goes to school with his older sister’. You just know it’s not going to have a happy ending; don’t you?
I love Toner’s Belfast accent when it creeps in and out of songs in the way Van the Man does; and at times there is more than a bit of a Van influence on some of the arrangements, but not enough to worry about, as Anthony has a voice and style all of his own.
One really special song is The Great Escape which is about a woman who came into his life as child and he called Auntie; but wasn’t related to but was a constant figure in his young life, and it’s actually two love songs in one as she dies of a broken heart and that appears to have had a lasting effect on Toner the romantic songwriter.
Grateful sounds particularly poignant and will touch both male and female hearts that have been broken by a selfish lover.
I could easily bore you silly by continually quoting snippets of lines and choruses to impress you with Toner’s songwriting skills; but I won’t – you’ll just have to buy the album to hear how good he is for yourself.
A LIGHT BELOW THE DOOR is an exceptional record from an exceptional talent; who really should get out more – preferably on tour.