'Raising My Own Hell'
Toby Jepson is probably best known as the front man of the hugely successful Little Angels and recently has become defacto producer for acts as diverse as Saxon, The Virginmarys, Chrome Molly and Toseland but this six track EP has him returning to (arguably) his first love - performance.
Kicking off with the title track, the EP benefits from being uncluttered by instrumentation. A simple guitar, drums and voice combination settles the listener in nice and easily. The fact that Toby's voice is crisp and clear makes this all the more enjoyable as you don't need to listen intensely to understand what he's saying.
The addition of some simple backing vocals mid-way through and the introduction of saxophone provided by Dave Kemp (who as part of the Big Bad Horns, supplemented the Little Angels sound throughout their career) adds some body to the song without losing any of the simplicity.
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'Dear Mama' adds some keyboards to the sound and the track bounces along at a fare pace. Sure, the lyrical material is not the happiest subject taking as it does, the form of a letter from a child to their mother and talks about the breakdown of the relationship. Toby really stretches his voice here and it's a delight to hear someone with such a good voice really use it to it's full extent. Whether this song is from personal experience is a question for Toby, but this is one heartfelt song and will surely resonate with some listeners.
'Patience Of A Saint' adds some subtle drums to the acoustic guitar sound and, for me, this is one of the stand out tracks on the album. Again, the tempo is fairly fast and it doesn't appear melancholic at any point despite the rather downbeat lyrics. Some rather fruity language, shall we say, shows that Toby isn't afraid to shock but it's never gratuitous and doesn't detract from the song at all. A lyrical keyboard track adds extra depth and the song seems to finish rather too soon for my liking before I realised that the song actually was barely half way through as the chorus unexpectedly pops up once again.
'Four Letter Word' slows the pace right down again and is one of the shortest tracks here which talks of the regrets over a broken relationship and how the four letter word of the title was the cause of the break up. Likewise, 'Shoes' is a classic just waiting to be discovered by daytime radio. Comprising of only Toby's voice and an acoustic guitar, the track is certainly the slowest on the EP but can quite happily sit alongside 'Patience Of A Saint' as one of the standout tracks here. Sometimes the simpler songs are better than those that have a lot more going on in them.
The final track is the much more funky 'Shadow Boxing' which has Kemp joining Toby once more on the saxophone making this a much fuller (almost a Big Band) sound and a great way to end the EP. Toby knows how to write great songs (just look at his history writing some of the Little Angels biggest numbers) but combine this with his talent for producing and you get a very, very enjoyable EP.
Raising My Own Hell
Patience Of A Saint
Four Letter Word
You can see video footage of the track 'Raising My Own Hell' live in Glasgow here:
Official Website: http://www.tobyjepson.com
Toby Jepson live picture - (c) Main Stage Photography 2012