Are We Angels is the first album to be released by Tobiah since Step Up in 2011. Words like ethereal come to mind and many of the songs would not be out of place in musicals, as they do have a theatrical feel to them with lush orchestration backing Tobiah’s clear and beautiful vocals.
The title track is a song that sums up the album, being both about relationships and how music can be used to heal or express the world. From the sleeve notes accompanying the album we discover that Tobiah lost her husband whilst still in her twenties, after just a few years of marriage, and it was the random acts of kindness from often complete strangers that helped her through those difficult times. We can all be angels on occasions, is the message, and it’s the small things that count. As she says “My songs are very visual, about experiences in my life or a story that has caught my imagination. Lyrics are important – I could never write a song that didn’t move me”.
The opening track ‘Kiss Kiss’ could easily be one of the songs from a show I mentioned earlier. It’s a love song about all those special moments in a relationship with the most special moment being the kiss because “nothing is better than that, nothing is more special than that”. It’s a very moving piece that gives the warm, fuzzy feeling of a true love song.
Selecting tracks to mention in this review, from the nine on offer, has proven difficult because the standard is very high throughout but I will mention ‘Ancient Church’, inspired by an old stone church near Tobiah’s home. Sitting in it she began to think about those who’d come before and had perhaps found comfort and inner peace in it’s age and stability through bad times and good.
I also have to mention ‘Apples – The Long Goodbye’ which originally started as a song about the changes of the season but became a song about Tobiah’s mother who is in the final stages of dementia. Despite the subject this isn’t a depressing song at all. Time passes and fortune or fate can give both the bounty of an apple harvest or the slow passing of a loved one. It’s all part of the world we live in and music such as this can reach out to people to help them make sense of that.
I was attracted to this album the first time I heard it and many plays later I still find it both beautiful and moving. It’s an album for those times when you want to just pull back and spend some time in quiet and contemplation. When the world starts to get get a little too much this is the one to play and recharge the batteries, as so many of the feelings within it are ones we’ve encountered but can have problems expressing. It’s a reminder we’re not alone and life goes on.
I’ve mentioned Tobiah’s strong vocal ability but adding immensely to the album are the musicians she has chosen to work with, who interpret her music with great style and sensitivity; Caroline Lavelle (cello), Colette O’Leary (piano accordion), Rowan Piggott (fiddle), Simon Callow (keyboards/percussion) and Kenneth Hope (piano).
The album will be launched on 10th May and will be available on both iTunes and Spotify. There are also physical CDs but no details as yet of how to order. All profits from the album will go to the charity Animals Asia, which Tobiah has been supporting for several year, having previous released a single ‘Moon Bear’ on their behalf.
Artist’s website: https://www.tobiah.co.uk/