Tobias Russell – Flesh.Bones.Teeth.Words
Tobias Russell appears to be a contradiction of terms. A dreadlocked twenty-something that considers Paul Simon as his biggest influence? An MC that doesn’t curse? But it’s this dichotomy that makes his musical approach so intriguing. “Flesh.Bones.Teeth.Words” is the first full-length from this Annapolis native and it’s as rooted in folk as it is in hip hop. Russell says he’s unafraid to drastically change styles from song to song and while he holds true to those words, it’s not at the expense of cohesiveness.
A prolific songwriter, he had a multitude of songs to choose from for his debut but he told Underground Wednesday that he found common lyrical ground in the songs that worked their way onto the record – regardless of whether he was singing or rapping. It’s hip hop that’s refreshingly free of misogyny and braggadocio. It’s rock with an ear for hooks and a way with words. And it’s folk that’s introspective without being self-absorbed.
Not hurting matters is the stellar production, subtle guitar work and backing vocals by Annapolis musician Casey Hean (of local bands Ethics Committee, newstravelsfast, and the forthcoming Diving Horses.) From the ebullient pop of first single “I Woke Up” to the soul-inflected hip hop of “This Ain’t Music” (featuring former Jepetto and Victory Party MC Dave Richardson), it’s a promising debut that’s only accentuated by his passionate live performances. He might not use profanity in his music, but we’re going to go ahead and call Tobias Russell a badass anyway.
Tobias Russell – I Woke Up (now available on iTunes)
Tobias Russell – This Ain’t Music
Lead single now available on iTunes. Full album available in October 2010.
Check out his live performance at Mill Creek Studio featuring a couple of songs not found on the record.