Julian Taylor – The Ridge
Opening with a strong title track Canadian Julian Taylor (vocals/guitar/piano) solidly asserts himself on his 8-track LP The Ridge, (Drops June 19 – Howling Turtle). Possessed with salient musical strength the tunes are quite admirable & memorable.
“The Ridge,” is the intro that provides a sleek musical entrance. Julian’s warm strong vocal is decorated by stirring poetic lyrics, a honey-drenched melody that’s simply delivered with expertise. Easily a tune to be replayed. With its descending stirring jazz type piano & weeping pedal steel anchored by a sawing secure fiddle. If only songs by other capable artists could be as compelling.
The supporting timbers & rhythms throughout are provided by Gene Diabo (drums/conga), Barry Diabo (bass), Derek Downham (piano/dobro guitar), Burke Carroll (pedal steel), Saam Hashemi (percussion), Miranda Mullholland (fiddle), Sheila Carabine & Amanda Walther (DALA) – backing vocals, & Kevin Fox (cello).
While using fairly standard instrumentation Julian wisely shapes, with a fluid voice, a wonderfully enticing style. It’s familiar but different. It doesn’t sound like other performers. The subjects of his lyrics approach each composition in a signature showcase. Well thought out, arranged & performed. Even the more laid-back tunes as “Human Race,” possess a solid message, with no showboating. Julian’s voice toward the finale is dramatic & never grandiose.
If Johnny Mathis were crossed with the singer-songwriter folksier quality of latter career Bobby Darin this is where those singers would be. A Julian Taylor.
Even simple poignant songs as “It’s Not Enough,” are basted with old-time songwriting traditions yet spiced with modern energy & charm. Singing? Eloquent & beautiful. It’s not even an LP that would appeal only to female ears – it has a male quality to its influence.
Mr. Taylor’s best attribute is that he doesn’t sound like he wants to impress anyone. Just please them. Weave a few tales, dress them in an unassuming attractive performance with spiffy melodies. At times he comes across a little like those excellent 60s balladeers. Julian makes it even more interesting by stitching threads of Americana, roots & MOR into his groove.
The delightful “Ballad of a Young Troubadour” is rich. Ronnie Dove, Terry Stafford (“Suspicion”), Lenny Welch, Vic Dana or Danny White (“White on White”) would’ve driven this type of song up the charts. Digging deeper into a 60s MOR groove is Julian’s exceptional Spanish-flavored “Love Enough,” that’s superb. His voice has all the right intonation, phrasing & tone as the great ballad singers.
Taking a page from the late John Trudell, with a deep narration intro Julian’s “Ola Let’s Dance,” strolls down a retro avenue & becomes a short stimulating repetitious jewel – should’ve been longer.
This LP will be set on repeat for a long time.
For me, it’s nostalgic yet new…retro yet modern. The umbilical cord begins in the 60s & is not aged. It’s polished.
Produced by Julian with Saam Hashemi. Available at https://juliantaylormusic.ca/music