“There’s a good chance you’re feeling nervous, if you’re anything like me.”
This lyric, from the song “You And I,” opens the debut album by Tolani, a Brooklyn-based five-piece led by the band’s namesake, Sameer Tolani. The record is raw in many ways: in its personal lyrics, candid production techniques, and cathartic vocal and instrumental performances that speak openly to the brutal honesty and authenticity of this record.
For example, rarely are guitar solos played the way they are meant to be played: As desperate expressions of the soul. Here, guitarist Raj Diwan lets loose song after song, to great effect.
“This record is my attempt at being honest with the world,” Tolani says. “I spend a lot of time filled with existential stress,” he confesses. “Sometimes I think I’m a beautiful weirdo, but I pretend a lot, and I wanted to make a record in which I could be authentic.” “To you I’ll speak, the things I keep known only to myself,” Tolani sings on the album’s penultimate cut “Climbin’ Up A Mountain,” singing directly to the listener.
Tolani makes no issue about coming to the songwriting and record-making game with more passion than practical experience. It’s what makes the album so charming, frankly. “I have a limited palette, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. The music that comes out is an expression of how I’m feeling, and letting it out is like therapy for me.”In this way, Tolani’s songs can remind of John Lennon’s “primal scream” period, albeit with less screaming.
“Honestly, I’m the weakest of the bunch, musically,” he continues. “It’s a gift for me to be able to play with these guys.” Indeed, Tolani has surrounded himself with ace players that deftly support his music whims. “They bring a level of musicianship that elevates my simple ideas,” he says. “Raj’s guitar tone is to die for. His solos are always a highlight,” Tolani exclaims of the previously mentioned Diwan’s playing. “Simon (Witt, Keyboards) is our secret weapon. He can play anything. He’s absurdly humble about it too.” The band is rounded out by Andrew Schaeffer on Drums and Turner Stough on Bass. “I love Andrew’s drumming style. He’s so smooth, and Turner’s a local legend.”
As the lyricist and singer, Tolani explains, “My aim is to express my inner self outwardly, in a way that people who’ve faced similar struggles can hopefully relate to. When that happens, all the unpleasant life experiences that led to these songs are worth the struggle.”
On another optimistic note, Tolani leaves this personal observation: “Songwriting inspired the changes I’d been longing for. Fulfillment will only come if I stay true to myself. This record began as a coping mechanism and ended up as catharsis. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
The self-titled debut album by Tolani arrives on June 14th, 2019.
-Josh Bloom of Fanatic Promotion