Singer, songwriter, and storyteller Julian Taylor may be kicking it on the music scene in Toronto – both in studio and on stage.
But it’s his roots, and a few specific childhood memories of time spent on a Maple Ridge farm, that he’s bringing to life with in his newest solo album, The Ridge, released last week.
Taylor described the title song and first single, which was actually premiered back in April, as a dramatic, minor-key ballad that tells a story – in snapshots – of a young boy’s life on a farm before they had to sell it and move on.
For him, much of it is based on the true story of summers spent with his aunt and grandparents at their farm in Maple Ridge. And with his lyrics, he shares memories of following his older sister around the barn, chicken coop, and pastures of that farm wearing his little rainboots, catching frogs, shovelling manure, and chasing chickens.
“I spent every summer in Maple Ridge from the time that I was four until I was 14,” Taylor shared with The News.
“My grandfather is John Skanks. He ran the famous boxing gym there and his wife, my step-grandmother is Carol Skanks. I didn’t go to school there, but I trained at the boxing gym each summer.”
Last Friday the “The Ridge” was released and that same evening a few family & friends surprised me with a little social distancing soirée. I had no clue and was totally taken back. It was awesome. Thanks everyone all over the world for your kindness. I’m glad you like the album. pic.twitter.com/OAdHrYMnj2
— Julian Taylor (@jtaylorband) June 23, 2020
The eight-song Americana album was originally scheduled for a fall release date, but Taylor decided to speed up the release, in hopes his songs might bring joy to listeners in what he calls “troubled times.”
“I’d really like the heart of this record and the stories to connect with people. These are letters to members of my family. It’s something that everyone has – family (whether chosen or not) and memories.”
He co-produced it with long-time collaborator Saam Hashemi and recorded at The Woodshed, Blue Rodeo’s studio in downtown Toronto.
In addition to exposing many personal truths with this latest album, Taylor sees The Ridge as a way to reach out and help others.
“This is something near and dear to my heart,” Taylor explained. “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.”
Thank you @AppleMusic my producer friend @Saampler sent me these snaps shots and I’m kind of floored. Such good company to be in and it’s the first time on the charts so I’m feeling blessed. Thank you to everyone for listening to the new record. pic.twitter.com/pEMnLCJEJ1
— Julian Taylor (@jtaylorband) June 19, 2020
Taylor is a musical chameleon – who can be found performing rhythm and blues one day, and funk, soul, or rock the next.
The baritone vocalist, who happens to also play guitar and piano, is also described as a prolific musician who has released 10 studio albums in the past two decades.
He cut his teeth in the music industry as frontman with the Staggered Crossing band before the group disbanded in 2007 and he ventured out on a solo career. And since then, 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, and Blue Rodeo.
Classified as a major label veteran on the Toronto music scene, Taylor was personally invited to perform at the Olympics in Salt Lake City and Vancouver, and his songs have been placed in popular TV programs such as “Elementary,” “Private Eyes,” “Kim’s Convenience,” “Haven,” “The Good Witch,” and “Younger.”
With all tour dates currently on hold due to COVID-19, Taylor is doing regular livestreaming for his Patreon supporters, plus performing several public livestreaming performances including a recent concert for Mariposa Folk Festival, in partnership with the National Arts Centre.
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