What is it that makes great country music? Is it the straight-talking of world-weary troubadours? Is it the unpretentious stripped-down sound of one man and a guitar pouring his heart out? Or is it the storytelling lyrics of real life and all its myriad tiny dramas?
One listen to Floyd Tolston and you'll see that it's all of these things. And more.
Following in the tradition of great Texas folk music from the likes of John Prine, Merle Haggard and Townes Van Zandt, Tolston turns the ordinary and the everyday into something which is in turn beautiful, funny and true.
Tolston’s debut album Something Special is the product of more than 35 years of songwriting, honed through his years as a teacher, before his retirement gave him the opportunity to polish and record the songs which have been his life's work.
The 14 original songs on this record are the heartfelt reflections of a life in and around music, in all its comedy, pain, regret and pathos. That is exactly what country music should be. From the hilarious consumer-age love-story of 'Wal-Mart Lovers' to the lovelorn musings of 'Primal Scream' or 'Something Special' and the loving homage to old style Texas beer, music and life in 'Lone Star'.
There is a certain truth to this music, above all its other qualities. Tolston rails against the false prophets of the material world and of the music it has produced. His music, by contrast, is straight-edged.
The first single from the album, 'Austin', shows these qualities as clearly as any other. The tale is of the rise and fall of an aspiring musician chasing the rainbow that is the Nashville scene. Though as Tolston sings "life don't always work out the way you'd planned it." The universality of this song, though routed firmly in the Lone Star state, is demonstrated by its international popularity.
'Austin' has already been picked up and played on the Honky Tonks and Heartaches radio show in Melbourne, Australia. This follows on from the success of 'Everybody's Got'em a Song', which became the 21st most requested song on Radio Free Texas.
Indeed, every one of these 14 diverse musical poems could have been picked up because everyone one offers a different glimpse into the soul of the creator. His growling baritone and simple but deft guitar playing compliment the feel of the songs in every case.
Floyd Tolston is truly the undiscovered gem of Texas music. Something Special may well soon change that.