Jenny Tolman’s Musical Funny Bone Comes From Country Icons Roger Miller + Dolly Parton
It's no secret that Jenny Tolman has a penchant for musical comedy. The up-and-comer's debut single, "High Class White Trash," offered listeners the first taste of "Jennyville," the whimsical, wacky world in which Tolman's songs take place.
Populated by rhinestone-studded, hoop earring-clad caricatures, Jennyville is a place for Tolman's imagination and sense of humor to stretch its legs. She's inspired to create that blend of humor and music by some of her traditional country idols.
"Roger Miller is one of my favorites. He is the wackiest weirdo, and I love it," Tolman tells The Boot. "And even Dolly [Parton] -- she's somebody that I always talk about [as an influence] because she's been able to create something where she's humorous, but still taken seriously. She's able to have this caricature look for herself, but still be taken seriously, and be beautiful, but still be taken seriously."
To learn how Parton managed to strike that balance between whimsy and weight, Tolman studied the iconic performer -- literally. "She's just somebody that I really admire and try to take notes on. Like, I watch her interviews all the time," the singer shares. "She's just so good at coming back [from a critical comment or out-of-line question] with something out of the blue that's hilarious, but so true."
Of course, Tolman's love of humor doesn't mean that her forthcoming studio debut, There Goes the Neighborhood, is going to be a strictly comedic project; in fact, some of its songs, such as "So Pretty," are among the most vulnerable she's ever written. Singing that song, which speaks from the perspective of a woman who feels threatened by another woman's beauty, was a shift for Tolman.
"I wouldn't say it's uncomfortable, because it is very different, because I've gotten so used to the character-[based], role-playing type of songs," she explains. "Like, we shot the "So Pretty" video a few weeks ago, and it was such a different experience for me, [in terms of] being on camera and having to be emotional about it."
Tolman loves the slyness and humor of songs such as "High Class White Trash," but she thinks her more vulnerable material might be even more rewarding. "["So Pretty"] is the first song I've put out and shot a music video for that's so emotional and shows a different side of me," she goes on to say. "I like the challenge. Those types of songs are my favorite types of songs."
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