Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Paul Kolderie
The east coast of America is often a very mysterious place when I'm thinking about it and what's all over there. It's this handle of land that could very well be the right arm of Miss Liberty, the one that never gets its due. It's a pocket of real estate that has New York and Boston and the District of Columbia and then there seems to be space reminiscent of Wisconsin in upstate New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. There's an entire new world of coves and quaint villages in Maine and those parts and then there's another world entirely that goes by the names of Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast and flush with important and extravagant people brushing shoulders with each other in impressive homes and loafers. What probably makes the place interesting is when those various impressive, well-to-do people who pay property taxes there, have children and we all know how children turn out: unpredictably. These kids will turn the island into a hippie commune, where they'll drink cheap red wine by the jugs, or they'll just forget their manners and lose the class. Those kids. Or they'll be those apples that don't fall all that far from the proverbial trees. Or, better yet, they'll be a little hellish and not fall that far from the tree. It makes for enrichment and it makes for evolution in a fine bit of progress. Ben Taylor, a musician from those parts, whose wooded and winding lane adorns the cover of his second-to-last full-length Another Run Around The Sun, is known widely for his famous parents - legendary folk singers James Taylor and Carly Simon - and there's really no certainty that could be called on to place him in either of the categories we design above. He's too cool to be hellish and he's too different to be a similar apple so maybe there's a third sect to which he can call his own. His own music is as free of entitlement as was that of his parents and maybe more so as his mother at a young age was already experiencing yachts and men wearing apricot colored items and working through that disdain and status ugliness. Perhaps growing up around the privileged and those leading the kinds of lifestyles that Robin Leach gushed over weekly in his very British way, forces a young man or woman to chill the fuck out and identify not with that world, but with other things entirely, things that are achieved solely through character and maybe natural suavity, not just by way of loaded bank accounts and trust funds. Ben Taylor gives off some of the same vibrations that his father started giving off back in the late 60s and early seventies - there's no avoiding that in his voice - but he lends more of the sea salt laze that must make up the other percentage of people calling the Vineyard home that wasn't already accounted for by water. It's a committed, but lackadaisical flair for being able to keep things in perspective and to keep the blood pressure at all-time lows. Here he sings about America, a country that he grew up seeing from one angle and has since discovered in all its warts, shadiness and overriding splendor on his own, in a way that Simon & Garfunkel sang about it, while adding to the description (mostly a love in spite of the black eyes and sour reports) a carefree tonality that's vaguely of a reggae feel, where the drinks are helping. He tells a touching and humorous story about a song he wrote to coax his nephew out of his sister Sally's belly, including some toe biting that only the closest of brothers and sisters would ever do for the other to induce pregnancy. He, like Mason Jennings, a peer, is able to frame a song about wanting someone in such a sharp and individual manner that it's an extraordinary accomplishment to be able to sing, "Show me some skin I might bite it," and have it come off as an astoundingly romantic gesture, reminding the lady it's directed toward that there should be no worry about a broken heart or him sticking around past his or her welcome. It's when lust can feel as casual as a mint, as a smile, that you know a man has been observant and learned from those around him. Ben Taylor is a man of such qualities.
Ben Taylor Official Site