Image from Billy Toulson (Facebook)
Written by Ljubinko Zivkovic
Back in 2008 while still in Delaware, Billy Toulson wanted to be a musical Sun Brother, hence the adopted nom de plume. Not much can be found or heard from that strictly acoustic period of Toulson’s music, but then he obviously had a change of heart in his approach. He moved to Nashville and joined forces with four other musicians making Sun Brother a full-fledged band. Sun Brothers (and a sister) then?
The result of the new approach is /Meta Fascination/, Sun Brother’s first album. While it is only a guess how the sound with the additional musicians can compare to Toulson’s acoustic incarnation, it still seems to be his show. The music and lyrics are his, but it is also certain that the other four members, who obviously feel Toulson’s music in the right way have enriched his sound. Even when there are no extra embellishments beyond the guitars/keyboards/rhythm section set up.
Image from Sun Brother’s Twitter page
Even though the Nashville prefix would indicate anything relating to the sound of Country, Sun Brother’s sound is firmly in the singer/songwriter Folk-Rock mode. This approach certainly suits Toulson’s songwriting and vocals the best. If comparisons are due, James Taylor is the name that comes first to mind from the so-called old guard, and Iron&Wine and Hiss The Golden Messenger from the new crop of quality singer/songwriters.
As is the case with most singer/songwriters, the power of the music relies on their lyrical content, and Toulson can certainly come up with good ones.
“Did you catch me falling through Or falling for you in your fantasy? Did you call away to Some spirit that trapped you inside your grief?”
– From ‘Words’
While most of the seven tracks are in a more mellow, semi-acoustic mode, Sun Brother can certainly stretch a bit of a muscle, like on the closer “Read The Room”. Still, the Cowboy Junkies-reminiscent “Slow Motion” is a personal standout here.
So Sun Brother, brothers, brothers and a sister, it makes no difference. With Meta Fascination, Toulson and company have come up with a strong debut.
Ljubinko Zivkovic is a Freelance Journalist and Copywriter. You can read more of his content on his Medium page at (https://medium.com/@zivljub).