#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Jenny Tolman and “Something To Complain About”

“Welcome to JennyvilleVisitors who take the aural journey inside the city limits will likely find plenty of familiar characters in the fictional town – ambitious workers, strutting ladies, loving partners and fragile souls.
While exploring the citizenry, listeners might even find themselves. In the process, they’ll get to know Jenny Tolman, a Nashville-based singer/songwriter who relays big chunks of her personality as she plays with Jennyville’s inhabitants. The songs are smart, playful, insightful and vulnerable – much like the increasingly successful woman behind them.
Though the provocative ‘Stripper For A Week,’ Tolman is racking up plays on Spotify as she builds a winning concert profile, opening for such country hitmakers as Cole Swindell, Michael Ray, and Alabama.” 

What inspired your new single “Something To Complain About” (Is it a co-write)?

“I wrote ‘Something to Complain About‘ with my producer, Dave Brainard, and the very talented, Aaron Raitiere. When we were hanging out trying to figure out what to write that day, I somehow got on the subject of one of my teachers that I was very close with in high school. (I graduated from a homeschool/tutorial type of school, so it was common to get very close to your teachers). She and her husband had been struggling for years to get pregnant, and she would tell me about how hard it was to hear mothers complaining about how difficult their child was, or how they wanted time to themselves, etc. And she looked at me and said: ‘I wish I had something like that to complain about.’ And so, ‘Something to Complain About’ was born. Even though the storyline of the song isn’t centered around that exact story, it was the inspiration behind it. Plus, I love making people laugh, so of course, I had to throw in something about wanting bigger boobs! Haha.”

What unique components does the song bring to country music?

Dave, Aaron, and I all love the sound and feel of classic country music, so ‘Something to Complain About‘ definitely honors traditional country music in its whole essence. From the production, to the lyrics, to the melody, it is a country song. Dave always heard it as a tip of the hat to Alan Jackson’s sound, with the Telecaster guitar and all. But, it definitely still has its Jennyville signature all over it.”

Rolling Stone’s “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know: October 2017” article describes your sound as “The sass of Nikki Lane mixed with the clever wordplay of Brandy Clark, all dressed up with brass and funky production.”

Would you agree with Rolling Stone’s take on your sound and lyrics? Your upcoming album, Jennyville, and one of your favorites, Brandy’s 12 Stories, do share the same producer, Dave Brainard.

“They are both amazing female artists that I’m honored to have been compared to! Brandy Clark’s ‘12 Stories‘ is/was my favorite album I’ve ever heard front to back, (even before I knew who Dave was), so that was very cool to read that someone thinks of her when they listened to me. Also, Dave has a very signature production sound, so you can definitely hear him woven throughout both of our albums. But, we both sound very different in our own way, so I try not to get too caught up in comparisons.”

Speaking of your upcoming album, can you explain the title to our readers, and what it really means for you as an artist?

Jennyville is an imaginary town that Dave and I made up, full of crazy, loveable characters. We like to ‘go there’ whenever we write because it opens you up to a whole new world where you can explore different narratives of all the characters that live in Jennyville. It is really very fun. It’s also a good way to make sense of some things that you maybe can’t make sense of in the real world. It’s a very relatable place, but also a bit of a fantasy land. I can’t wait for everyone to be able to experience Jennyville is!”

How much do major life and work changes impact your music?

“I think for any artist, a major change will impact your music. It changes what you think about, so therefore, it changes what you write about, or what you need to write about. As artists, we are always searching for creative ways to express some type of universal emotion. So, to me, major changes are sometimes a very good thing to help the creative process, so that you’re not stuck on a plateau.”

If someone wrote a song about your life, what would be the title?

“Tales of a Pole Dancin’ Country Singer”

What advice can you offer to females looking to breakthrough in the country music world?

“Always be yourself and don’t change for anyone. I am very lucky to be surrounded and supported by people who are passionate about me and my music and the way that I am. There have been a few people who have wanted to come in and change things, but I always stuck to my guns, and I believe that gets you farther and makes you stand out amongst a crowd. Plus, you’ll always be much happier if you stay true to you, and people/fans will connect better when you are authentic.”

If you were to go out on your own headlining tour, what supporting acts would you bring along and why?

“Well, she definitely wouldn’t need to support me- maybe just her upper half haha- but, I would love to tour with Dolly Parton. I think that would be the most amazing learning experience, to see how she interacts with audiences, night after night. But it would probably be the biggest insult of all time to name Dolly Parton as my opening act, so I would be her support! Also, I LOVE Apollo’s Crown, who you probably haven’t heard of yet, but you will! They are a phenomenal band here in Nashville, from Canada. Every time I hear them play live, I get goosebumps all over!”

Besides the new single and upcoming album, what can fans expect from you in 2018?

“Well if I told you that, all the fun would be spoiled! I’m just really looking forward to everything in 2018! I’ll hopefully be coming to play in your area!”

Things to take away from Jenny. 

“Tolman is putting out good vibes and good music. And with Jennyville, she’s using a fictional community to chronicle the truths – even the uncomfortable parts – about real people, including herself. In the process, she’s making a real connection with an ever-expanding fan base. It makes me feel so much better to share it…You gain so much power and so much strength by doing that because everybody feels these things. You’re saying, ‘I’m a human, I feel emotions and I know you’re a human, too.’”

Author: Donna Block

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