FRESH TRACKS – Sean Taylor

by Rivertownman

Sean Taylor is a 28 year old singer/songwriter from Kilburn in North-West London who has just released his fifth CD, Love Against Death to warm praise from the likes of Bob Harris and Mike Harding. The album marks  something of a watershed moment for Sean in his development as an artist and is largely the result of the songwriter’s itch to spread his wings. Now, people are making comparisons between Sean’s music and that of the late great John Martyn, so it’s clear that for many critics he’s already taken flight.

Let’s return to Kilburn for a moment though and a time of  entrenched political dogma and financial opportunism during the Thatcher years. That’s where his roots are and he’s not shy about his left-leaning politics; nor does he hide his deep affection for one of London’s most stubbornly uncool enclaves.

Indeed, there is a warm paean to home on the album in the shape of “Kilburn” that is heartfelt as it is observant. It suggests that all that is good about England can to be found just as readily in the inner city as it is imagined in a pastoral idyll. It’s this strong sense of knowing where you’re from and who you are that is the stamp of the accomplished storyteller.

The recurring theme of Love Against Death is the proposal that the choices we make are simple enough when they are distilled within a compassionate rationale. The record deals with the essential distinctions between good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, wealth and poverty.

These are not political absolutes but they are the best reply to far right cadres that would have us subscribe blindly to a perverse and inverted morality. It’s our circumstances that make things complicated because we often feel powerless in the face of force. That’s why the inclusion of  ”Sixteen Tons” is such a wry and witty barb, containing a touch of bitterness that replaces the laconic resignation of the original.

Sean made the right decision going to Austin TX to record this album. It’s a work that’s been fashioned in the spiritual home of the music he clearly loves. His previous records have been tender and slightly introspective, whereas this one sees him working out in more muscular settings.

This is where we leave  the ghost of John Martyn standing in the station. Sean is more at home, I suspect, in a boxcar travelling across Oklahoma in a SXSW direction. The old bluesmen like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Hooker are travelling companions, but  JJ Cale is also bumming along for the ride  as  a carefree Cassady to Sean’s well-read Kerouac.

However, it’s Sean’s deceptively easy way with a gentle ballad that really grabs the ear. There have been great songs on each of his albums that demonstrate that this is not a newly acquired skill. “Hold On To Your Love” from his Calcutta Grove collection is mature and measured, and the achievement is repeated here with “Hymn”, “Absinthe Grove” and “Cassady”.

Sean is a seasoned performer with an unassuming and engaging manner who does not demand anything of his audience, but instead simply offers up friendly invitation to join in the conversation. He’s developed a bookish way with lyrics and a firm line on issues of the day so it’s going to be an intelligent discourse.

You can catch Sean Taylor this summer at the Ashley, Crawley, Maverick and Burton Agnes festivals and full details about gigs and all things Sean Taylor can be found on his website SEAN TAYLOR SONGS.

Sean Taylor “Perfect Candlelight” music video on Storify FRESH TRACKS

From: The Curator, May 2012. INSTRUMENTAL

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