Reviewed by Mary Day
Upside Down Kingdom
by Thomas Toole
Thomas Toole, 25, of New Albany recently released his new EP, Upside Down Kingdom. It hit iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon music for download on April 30, 2018, and charted number 4 on the singer/songwriter charts that same day.
Featuring 6 songs—“Upside Down Kingdom,” “Ashes and Dust,” “Open up My Doors,” “Used to Wonder,” “Ode to G. K.,” and “In Front of Us”—this EP’s success has been much earned and is well deserved.
Casey Combest had the privilege of being involved in the making of this album. “Thomas Toole is an incredible person. Incredible people make incredible records,” he states. Each song speaks a unique message of its own centered around the same idea: our world is broken and filled with fool’s gold, leading our lives to chaos at times, but there’s an overwhelmingly loving and transforming God waiting for us to reach out to him.
Sam Mooney, another young artist from Oxford, Mississippi, originally connected and built a friendship with Thomas over their mutual work and interest in music, and attests, “I was really impressed by the album and I think the writing and the delivery of the vocals and the sound all match up really well.” Because of the thoughtful writing and specific story behind “Ode to G.K.,” Sam claims it as his favorite on the album, with the energy of “Open Up My Doors” running it as a close second.
While I won’t share the story of “Ode to G.K.” today, interestingly enough, when talking with Casey about the challenges of creating the album, I uncovered a piece of the story behind another song. It was revealed one song specifically proved to be the most challenging and almost did not make the cut. He claims, “I think ‘Used to Wonder’ was our most difficult song to record. Thomas really wrestled with even putting the song on the project.” Thankfully, with it’s “vital message today,” the song made the list. The line Thomas sings in the chorus, “Remember how you use to wonder, Remember…” is something we all need to remember. Casey explains, “In a world filled with forgotten and broken dream, constantly beaten down by circumstantial defeat, remembering what God has put in our heart is pivotal to the Upside Down Kingdom.”
Ethan Oltremari, Thomas’ manager, also highlights Thomas’ songwriting ability and the profoundness of his work in saying, “When Thomas writes something, he means it. That’s what makes him and his work so genuine and real.” Ethan says his hope is “to see as many people as possible hear the lyrics that God has put on Thomas’ heart.”
Overall, the album displays the work of a man whose heart is so on fire for the Lord, and because of that passion and his unique ability and gifts, Upside Down Kingdom contains such a testimony to be heard. A testimony through lyrics that I believe contains the power to rekindle that same fire in another’s heart. However, I encourage each of you to not just take our word for it, but to listen for yourself. It just might flip pieces of your heart and your views upside down too.
Thomas’ album can be found at iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Mary Day is a review writer for River Records LLC in Greenwood, Mississippi.