In ‘Florida’, Thomas Dollbaum delivers a masterful vocal performance, backed beautifully by Kate Teague’s harmonies. The song begins with just Dollbaum’s storytelling over gently finger-picked guitar. Steadily, ‘Florida’ builds and grows, with Mac Folger’s violin and Matt Seferian’s electric guitar adding sonic layers and texture. At times, Dollbaum sounds desperate, his voice almost breaking: “Got me a new town honey said, got to get better than this. // All this downtown casino living is gonna make you mean. // The methadone clinic won’t get you sober, but it will get you clean.”
Dollbaum explains what he was inspired by when he wrote ‘Florida’: “I grew up in a small town between nowhere and nothing. By reputation, people move to Florida to run away from their problems, but instead of leaving them behind they bring the same problems with them. These are the people I grew up with, people struggling to start life over in a place promised as paradise. These people have affected me the most, their voices the ones that have resonated with me the deepest. These voices are not of the world’s future leaders, not of people on television, but of sheetrock finishers, painters, roofers, and carpenters. They are deadbeat fathers, drifters, prostitutes, gamblers and drunks. They are the voices of the working class, and I am obsessed with the situations that affect their lives. Florida is cookie-cutter. Everything’s new. Nothing’s got any history to it. People from all over move down there to start again. Everyone I knew as a kid was from somewhere else.”
Thomas Dollbaum is a singer with a truly unique and characterful voice. And he also has things he wants to say and stories to tell. His inspiration is people: those who have populated his world and community, the everyday people, both real and imagined, who make life richer. “Even in poetry, everything’s moving more to confessional stuff. I just don’t have much interest in that. These are songs and characters coming from growing up in Florida, a mixture of my own life and some of it very fictional.” Dollbaum is an excellent songwriter, who prioritises narrative and true to life, lived experiences. Check it out.
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