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Listen to Trent Toney’s Bittersweet Musings in “Knew You”

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A year before his grandmother died, Trent Toney played his first gig at the nursing home where she lived. His family wanted to give back to the staff for their special care of her, so he and his siblings started playing piano recitals regularly for the residents at a young age.

Fast forward 7 years, Toney’s life was turned upside down and music became his outlet. It was the perfect place. The nursing home was a captive audience, and although many took a snooze, he had a faithful front row who cheered him on. He still performs there regularly today. “They’re family”, he says, “and always will be.” Though he’s had to see some of his most faithful friends and supporters pass on, they are still in his heart, and he treasures the time he spent getting to know them.

Before he hunkered down into writing/recording mode earlier this year, Toney was playing up to five shows a week (sometimes several per day) in Portland and neighboring city Hillsboro, his hometown. This unrelenting schedule included shows at nursing homes, wineries, pubs, grills, clubs, coffee shops – you name it, he played it – all the while working and finding time to continue writing.

A busy life and a frustrating schedule are generally conducive to stress and even anger, but Toney’s new single, “Knew You”, is anything but. A bittersweet work written about the start of a past relationship, Toney passes forth stories and images of startling clarity: moments of instant connection and the feeling of knowing someone for a long time despite just having met them.

The video, produced by Isaiah Shields, is jovial fun – an adventure that follows a man who drops his phone at a party in…wait for it…a fish tank of all things. Just from that introductory clip, I could already tell this video was going to be a ride, which takes place over the length of the song. The main character, played by Ian Isakson, going through his day without his phone, which he’s grown so accustomed to (as we all have) that he even tries to text while he’s on the toilet. Even as he’s focusing on other hobbies, he’s still thinking about his phone. He gets desperate enough that he tries to steal a phone from a kid, which obviously doesn’t go over well with the child’s parents. Then at the end of his journey, he decides that the best thing for him to do is just to get away.

Of course, if you listen to the lyrics, the song isn’t talking about losing a phone. The phone acts as a metaphor throughout the song, but the song is really focused on a lost relationship, specifically the beginning stages when you’re just getting to know someone. It’s about getting to know someone who feels so familiar that it feels like you’ve known them for much longer, creating more of a connection and spark, which makes it that much more upsetting when you lose them.

A charming melody carries this song through light-hearted and soothing guitar chords and tabs. The guitar and vocal pairing is very reminiscent of none other than Ed Sheeran, who is known for his idiosyncratic and personal songs. Trent picks up the tempo just slightly in the chorus, musing of laying awake in an angel’s lullaby, alluding to the previous relationship in a silky and harmonious voice. He continues to experience this past relationship in the most random ways, like in the wind, even when he tries to keep it out of his head. These experiences are so bittersweet – on one hand, you are happy you had the opportunity to know somebody like that but on the other hand, you have to deal with the painful aftermath.

The video wraps up with a quick shot of Trent on a bridge playing this song…just before dropping his phone in water.

Elena Lin Editor
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