New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Award-winning Toronto-based Americana singer-songwriter Julian Taylor is set to release his latest album, The Ridge, via Howling Turtle, Inc., on June 19, 2020. Composed of eight deeply intimate songs, The Ridge was co-produced by Taylor and longtime collaborator Saam Hashemi, mixed by Hashemi, and mastered by Noah Mintz. The album, which was recorded at The Woodshed (the Toronto-area studio owned by a Canadian alt-country stalwarts Blue Rodeo), is the aural result of a songwriter clearly embracing his prime. Originally scheduled for a fall release date, Taylor decided to release the album sooner in the hope that his songs might bring joy to listeners in troubled times. "I hope people can find solace in this music," offers Taylor. "It's meant to draw you in and really touch your heart."
The title track, an ode to the idyllic childhood summers Taylor spent at his grandparents' farm in British Columbia, is being released as the first single from the effort on April 10, 2020. "The Ridge" premiered today at American Songwriter, who wrote of the song, "Lush... poignant... Lyrically, Taylor brilliantly displays the months he spent outside of his more urban school-year home. The seasons shared with his sister working on the farm are definitive to his identity. 'The Ridge' exudes innocence. The sense of place the song represents was the one that protected Taylor during his early life from the steep terrain he would navigate later in life. The song is one of gratitude for the place that gave him the rooted confidence to express his multi-faceted identity as an artist."
"Human Race," a particularly seductive earworm that finds Taylor shaping his own path beyond the intersecting songwriting crossroads of Mark Knopfler, Gordon
Lightfoot, and Robbie Robertson, already made its way to listeners' ears in February via Taylor's socials. Several more singles will also be released before the album's street date, including "Love Enough," which is scheduled to street on May 8, 2020, with a premiere at The Bluegrass Situation on May 6, 2020.
Taylor's inherently cinematic approach to his storytelling has a lot to do with his heritage and upbringing. "It's an interesting thing to be part Mohawk and part West Indian, because I've always had this feeling that I never fit in anywhere," he admits. "As a mixed person, it's like, oh, where do you go, and how do you connect with people? That's all I've been trying to do, and my life experience as a person who is mixed helps me do that. These stories are all coming from a person who tries to fit in, but doesn't quite fit in. That's really what my work has always been about — that longing to be a part of something."
Each song on The Ridge represents an acoustic-driven mixture of styles that reflects Taylor's range as a creative force by building upon the templates forged during his tenure fronting the chart-topping alt-rocking collective Staggered Crossing as well as the fine funk and rhythm and blues-driven foundation he continues to mine with the still-active Julian Taylor Band. From the hopeful swoon of "Over the Moon," to the tribal-energy landscape that permeates "Ballad of the Young Troubadour," to the Tex-Mex Canadian-Western vibe mashup of "Love Enough," the honest, raw nature of The Ridge enables listeners a myriad of personally relatable entry points into Taylor's enlightening narrative tales, all of which are about and for his family on this album. "I would go for walks in the forest for meditation, and I made videos of myself talking to all the important people in my life like I was writing them a letter," Taylor says. "I'd talk about the things they did that might have hurt me and vice-versa, as well as the things they did that were amazing. So, this record is really just like full-on confessionals to the people in my family."
In addition to working with Hashemi, Taylor also enlisted a collective of in-studio collaborators, including pianist/multi-instrumentalist Derek Downham, and, speaking of family, two of his cousins — Gene Diabo on drums, and Barry Diabo on bass. Taylor had a specific strategy for keeping each take fresh. "I sent the songs to everyone only 48 hours before we went into the studio, because I didn't want people to get tired of them," he observes. "One of my cousins said it was a great way to do a session, even though I kept him guessing all the time."
Taylor plans to donate a portion of the sales from The Ridge to a scholarship he started in honor of Bruce Adamson. "This is something near and dear to my heart," says Taylor. "Bruce was my bandmate for over a decade before he ended his own life. I started this scholarship in his name to help at-risk children who are interested in pursuing music." (https://shineconcert.ca/bruce-adamson/)
With all tour dates currently on hold due to COVID-19, Taylor is doing regular livestreaming for his Patreon supporters (https://www.patreon.com/juliantaylormusic). Additionally, he plans several free public livestreams in the coming days:
* April 10th at 7 pm EP/6 pm CT for the "NAC Canada Performs" livestream series on his own Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/juliantaylormusic/)
* April 18th at 1 pm ET/12 pm CT for TheBoot.com's Social Distancing Shows "Noon Tunes" series on TheBoot.com's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/thebootcountry)
Praise from other artists for The Ridge:
"...beautifully recorded, performed, and sung, but the real triumph is the raw honesty at the heart of these stories." - Rhett Miller
"...a fine record... In these times, we could use a little heart and soul, and Julian Taylor's latest is all heart and soul. Warm wrap-around-you sounds with that velvety voice. A very beautiful record." - Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo)
"...comforting... precise, thoughtful wordplay... These songs were dug for. One of the standouts is the timbre of Julian's voice. At times reminiscent of Neil Diamond, the title track presents a haunting incarnation of the late Willie Dunn. The songs are delivered honestly, and it presents itself as an easy keep amongst today's Americana." - William Prince
"...refreshing... To see an artist unapologetically be themselves is exciting, and I can't wait for him to share this body of work." - AHI
A major-label veteran, Toronto music scene staple, and a musical chameleon, Julian Taylor's versatility as a songwriter is signature; one minute he's on stage 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 reminiscent of Jim Croce. He is a prolific artist who has released ten studio albums since 2001. Via his many musical endeavors, Taylor has toured across Canada numerous times and has shared the stage with such world-renowned acts as Nickelback, Jeff Healey, Midnight Oil, Collective
Soul, Blue Rodeo and many others. He was personally invited to perform at the Olympic games in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. Perpetually playing live, Taylor has regularly performed just shy of two hundred shows a year. His songs have landed on TV screens everywhere in shows as varied as "Elementary," "Private Eyes," "Kim's Convenience," "Haven," "The Good Witch," "Younger," and others.
Past press and radio support for Julian Taylor's music:
No Depression: "...outstanding music front to back. Album of the Year? I think so."
Cashbox Canada Magazine: "...one of my favourite albums of all time. This is music I will be listening to for years to come."
CBC Radio: "...eclectic and all-encompassing; well-crafted songs..."
TorontoMusicReviews: "...euphoric... Taylor's voice is passionate, versatile, completely soul driven…"
Toronto Star: "Julian Taylor revels in versatility... electrifying and soulful..."
Spill Magazine: "...a stunning record."
Maverick: 5/5 stars - "Taylor is clearly the driving force... a delightful and distinctive vocal style."
Classic Rock Magazine: "...airtight..."
102.1 The Edge - Alan Cross: "I'll say it again: Julian is Toronto's best undiscovered star."
Jazz Global Media: "literate, witty, acerbic, poignant... a first-class ride from start to finish."
Cashbox Canada Magazine: "It's raw, passionate, gritty, beautiful..."