Whenever you connect with the body of work of a career artist, there’s a natural impulse to reach back into their catalog to explore the roots of how they got to where they are today — and perhaps also find some clues about where they may be going next in the process.
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Julian Taylor recognizes that archaeological urge — which is but one of a number of reasons why he’s sifted through the archives of his own long and storied recording legacy to personally compile Anthology Vol. 1, a deep-seeded collection of 18 songs that track the full arc of his career from the formative days as a member of Staggered Crossing to the genesis of his own Julian Taylor Band collective to his ultimate transformation into a soothsaying solo artiste of the highest caliber.
Anthology Vol. 1 will be released via Taylor’s custom Howling Turtle, Inc. label, with distribution via Warner Music/ADA, on CD and all major digital platforms on October 20, 2023, with a double-vinyl edition expected to follow later in the year. In addition to the 15 vintage tracks he’s curated here, Taylor has added a trio of all-new songs exclusive to Anthology Vol. 1 that serve to bridge the gap between those historical roots of yore and the forward-leaning songwriting template he forged during the making of his two most recent solo LPs, 2020’s highly acclaimed The Ridge (which garnered Taylor’s anointing as Solo Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards) and 2022’s equally lauded Beyond the Reservoir. Each of these three new tracks — the reflective singalong drive of “Georgia Moon,” the transient travelogue that is “City Song,” and the plaintive acceptance of “Long Time Ago” — confirm Taylor’s ever-upward creative trajectory.
Visceral storytelling has long been a primary focus for Taylor as a songwriter. “With my words, I’ve always attempted to make sure that what people are hearing, they can also see,” he explains. “That’s how I write most of my lyrics. The main things I focus on as a songwriter are visual lyrics, life lessons, and love. They almost act like allegories, in that they explain the ways of humans just being.”
As a truth-seeking songwriter, Taylor has never shied away from getting down to the rightful heart of the matter. “I write a lot about heartbreak and love,” he continues. “I try to write mostly about the human condition, because I think that’s my job.”
One of Taylor’s key job requirements is to honor the tenet of being as honest as he possibly can to ensure the words he’s singing match the intent of any given song’s subject matter. “When you place certain words in certain places, they can change things very drastically — and very dramatically,” he outlines. “I tend to focus on the right way to phrase things, especially when I’m writing choruses. Choosing just one wrong word — even if it’s a word like ‘that,’ or ‘this’ — can alter the way people hear and see it. I find getting the phrasing right is more important than the singing, you know what I mean?”
Taylor is adamant about following the proper word-selection road, no matter where it leads. “Phrasing has actually changed melodies for me — and I really like when that happens,” he admits. “I like when the word changes the melody on you. Early on in my career, I would write songs and try to make sure the words fit the melody. Later on, I realized that if I needed to say certain things I couldn’t fit into the melody, the song just wasn’t going to work that way. I need to say something the way I want to say it — so I surrender and allow the lyric to take control of where the song will ultimately go.”
As he combed through each Anthology Vol. 1 selection, Taylor reconnected with his earlier role as an equal band member in Staggered Crossing, and how that informed his contributions in a group setting. “What’s interesting about those band recordings is I did have to really work hard at balancing what the band needed to hear, and what I needed to hear back from them,” he notes. “Those songs, and that band, sounded the way we sounded because — even though I was the one presenting them with the songs I had written on either acoustic guitar or piano — as soon as they got ahold of them, they wanted the songs to hit hard. The arrangements changed, so I had to sing them to reflect that. And that meant I really had to sing out.”
The DNA found within the myriad Staggered Crossing and Julian Taylor Band selections that reside on Anthology Vol. 1 reflects the artist who Taylor has always embodied, ever since the literal jump. “It’s been so interesting to go back and listen to those early songs, since some of them actually connect with The Ridge. Actually, it’s like going beyond The Ridge,” he muses. “People will ask me, ‘When did you start doing country folk?’ And I’m like, ‘From the beginning.’”
While committing to the songs that appear on this particular Anthology edition certainly planted a flag for where Taylor came from as a developing songwriter, the Vol. 1 portion of the album title suggests his best work is yet to have bloomed. “I don’t think I’ve ever consciously felt like, ‘Oh, this is too hard,’” he theorizes about the ongoing impetus he has for writing and recording new material. “I’ve never looked at the whole equation and been like, ‘I need to put this amount of work in to get this result.’ That’s never been my mindset. I just keep going. If I’m able to harness all my energy, there’s always a way forward.”
Indeed, Taylor does keep on going, his creativity flowing like a raging river and his artistic aura standing tall and sturdy like a mighty maple does in the forest — in effect, reflecting the descriptive physical locales and elemental embodiments that are also waypoint hallmarks to be found all throughout Anthology Vol. 1. “It just happened naturally — my writing about earth, air, and space,” he confirms. “It’s always been my place to talk about those things.”
It’s yet another way Taylor continues to connect with his ever-expanding audience. “I’m having a personal conversation with the listener, so that’s why I have to write like that — and act like that,” he concludes. “Sometimes, just being honest is the most important thing. What really stands out in my career — from the music side of things and even from the business side of things, since I’ve been managing myself and my career for over two decades — is that I am authentically and uniquely Julian Taylor.” In that respect, Anthology Vol. 1 is a rich sonic chronicle that defines the singular artist Julian Taylor has both been, and is, still becoming. Dig in.
Anthology Vol. 1 – track listing
Long Time Ago*
Ballad of a Young Troubadour#
Set Me Free+
Just a Little Bit+
Zero to Eleven**
Never Gonna Give You Up**
Be Good to Your Woman**
Carry Me Home**
Roll Away the Tears^^
Business as Usual@@
Time’s Made Up My Mind++
*denotes new track recorded for Anthology Vol. 1, Julian Taylor, 2023
^denotes track from Beyond the Reservoir, Julian Taylor, 2022
#denotes track from The Ridge, Julian Taylor, 2020
@denotes track from Avalanche, Julian Taylor Band, 2019
+denotes track from Desert Star, Julian Taylor Band, 2016
**denotes track from Tech Noir, Julian Taylor Band, 2014
^^denotes track from Blank Tape Levy, Blank Tape Levy, 2009
##denotes track from Burgundy & Blue, Staggered Crossing, 2004
@@denotes track from Last Summer When We Were Famous, Staggered Crossing, 2002
++denotes track from 4 Song (Extended Play), Staggered Crossing, 2000
Julian Taylor Background:
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Julian Taylor has been part of the musical fabric and landscape in Canada for two decades. Taylor enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2020, when his second solo acoustic album, The Ridge, earned more than five million plays on Spotify, praise from press worldwide, and airplay from America to Australia to the U.K. Loaded with soulful Americana and country twang, the album was produced by Taylor himself and Saam Hashemi, and was recorded at The Woodshed in Toronto. In addition to winning Taylor Solo Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, The Ridge was also nominated for: two Juno Awards (Contemporary Folk Album of The Year, Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year), the Polaris Prize Long List, a Summer Solstice Indigenous Award (Contemporary Folk Album of the Year), a Canadian Music Week INDIES Award (Indigenous Artist of the Year), and an additional Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination in the English Songwriter of the Year category. The nominations and awards kept coming in 2022, with Taylor winning best male artist in the International Acoustic Music Awards and scoring five Native American Music Award nominations. In 2023, Taylor received a nomination in the Country Music Association of Ontario Awards in the Roots Artist of the Year category, and a further nomination for a Juno Award in the Contemporary Indigenous Artist of the Year category.
Taylor is a major label veteran, Toronto music scene staple, and musical chameleon. His versatility as a songwriter is signature; one minute he’s onstage playing with his band spilling out electrified rhythm and blues glory, and the next he’s featured at a folk festival delivering a captivating solo singer-songwriter set. Formerly associated with the band Staggered Crossing, he has continued to record and perform as a solo artist and has released twelve studio albums since 2001. With his songs being placed in such TV shows as “Haven,” “Private Eyes,” “Kim’s Convenience,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” and “Elementary,” his versatility as a songwriter is signature. He has had four albums on the long list of the Polaris Prize in Canada and has charted on several Canadian and Indigenous Music Charts. Two songs from The Ridge album, the title track “The Ridge,” and “Human Race,” went to #1 on the Indigenous Music Countdown, while the Julian Taylor Band song “Back Again” hit #3 on the same chart.
Taylor is as explosive and captivating a live performer as you’ll ever see. Taylor has toured Canada and the U.S. countless times, sharing the stage with the likes of Serena Ryder, Blue Rodeo, William Prince, AHI, Rodney Crowell, Keb’ Mo’, and has performed at the Festival d’Été de Quebec, the Mariposa Folk Festival, Ottawa BluesFest, and more. Taylor was extremely honored to perform at not one but two Olympic Games, in Salt Lake City and Vancouver.
Copyright © 2015. Auteur Research, All Rights Reserved
Site By: Blake Bowman