Review Summary: With a warm, soulful voice and catchy, upbeat melodies rooted in pop from days gone by, it's hard not to fall in love with Toby Lightman and her snowy-themed EP.
There's a particular spot in the collective human heart for winter holiday songs. From Bing Crosby to the Beatles, it's impossible to deny the hearth-fire warmth of a pop hit crafted for those snowy days of December and onward. From that simple human condition, it's oh-so-easy to welcome Toby Lightman's Snow Day
into your heart from the get-go. And, once you do, it's even easier to let her warm choruses and light melodies arouse that spirit of the season in your heart.
(or The Snow Day Collection
, depending on the source) is a short EP, clocking in at under ten minutes of warm, fuzzy feelings against a powder-snow backdrop, but that's just about right for a seasonal release from a pop artist still working her way up the Billboard charts. And from the way things are done on Snow Day
, it's hard to tell that Toby Lightman isn't a big name (and, heck, with the way the pop machine churns, maybe Snow Day
will put her name in big city lights tomorrow morning). Vocals, instrumentation, production - everything is as shiny and crisp as would be expected of multi-million dollar industry darlings without any of the corporate trappings. Snow Day
feels like a genuinely soulful experience, from its slightly sappy, lay-around-and-cuddle lyrics and warm, yet light and playful vocal delivery to its backing of steady, yet inspired bass, keys, and bells.
And it is the instrumentation that completes the experience - the sleigh bells, appropriately emphasized and vocally complementary bass, and light piano providing that frosted windowpane on "Snow Day" and "Home for the Holidays" through which we see Lightman fog things up with her powerful vocal delivery. "Winter's the Time for Love" and "The Gift of Giving," featuring more of a prominent tropically-inspired guitar, feel more like the thaw before the Spring (with Toby even discussing some of the warmer seasons in "Winter's the Time for Love"), though all of the tracks do a wonderful job of highlighting the album's number one asset: Lightman's voice.
With such a warm, soothing, and natural delivery, Toby Lightman's vocal stylings feel like a throwback to a time right after Motown. Eschewing the "high and strained" approach many singers take to pop music, Lightman instead presents us with a blues and jazz inspired intonation which not only feels refreshing, but which also hearkens back to the holiday croons of singers past. Rich, chorus-of-one backing vocals round out that low and slow alto warmth that seems to be unduly neglected in music today, and the sound as a whole feels just as any winter day off should - cozy and relaxed.
If radio stations aren't already adopting this into their repertoire of holiday tunes, I'd certainly say they're making a mistake, as "Snow Day" and "Home for the Holidays" have all the makings of Christmas morning present-unwrappers, while "Winter's the Time for Love" can be an easy season-long track. Even "The Gift of Giving," which seems to stop short just as it takes off, is an easy, one-off listen that's fitting enough at any low-key holiday bash. As a whole, Snow Day
may just be the sort of winter weather warmer that music's been missing for the past few years, and with this strong a performance, it's certainly going to be hard to ignore Toby Lightman much longer.