Los Angeles newcomer Tolliver wears a decade’s worth of tribulations on his sleeve, his rapturous and soulful songs distilling all that pain into funky self-acceptance. Born in Chicago, Tolliver – a self-described “broke, gay, super-hot musician” – found it difficult growing up in the shadow of the church his father sang in the choir for. When he was only 11-years-old Tolliver witnessed the unspeakable trauma of his father’s death, which sent him on a decade-long bender as he struggled to reconcile otherwise happy memories of his dad with the fear he’d condemn his lifestyle. But after getting back in touch with his brother, Tolliver discovered that his father, a cowboy obsessed and religious man, had his own share of flaws.
Tolliver’s relationship with his father takes center stage on his second EP Daddyland, a sonically sassy and vivaciously genre-bending collection of songs. Every breathless second of the EP is filled with iconic hallmarks of Tolliver’s phoenix-like attempt to reintroduce himself to his father in all his ecstatic, beautiful, and imperfect glory. While the melodic textures of his tracks fill the spaces between his shimmering vocals with punctuated soul, outstanding funk, and madcap passion. And then there is the inspired artistry of his music videos like the vibrant technicolor scenes for “Nervous” directed by Ali Roberto.
But that’s just this year! Tolliver hit the ignition on his debut with the ThinBlackDuke EP, a disco-spiraling, beatific creation that first signaled the artist’s impeccable originality. From its deliciously biting opening track “Petty,” all the way through the clenched-teeth anthem “Owe Me Money” and seductive heartacher “Swing My Way,” the EP is filled with examples of Tolliver’s budding talents as an artist. With two engrossing EPs under his sequin belt, a debut album can’t be far off, and when it drops you can expect Tolliver’s presence to truly explode.