DYLAN TAYLOR - A Buzzing Bee
Sometimes a singer comes along that makes you think a long lost, creative spirit is being channeled, though you can’t put your finger on exactly who. You keep listening and listening to the breeze of words, each quip of the guitar, and the passion notes sung only to realize a new soulful energy has arrived, which is also comfortingly familiar.
Dylan Taylor is just that singer who will surprise you with her spirited, yet angst-ridden bluesy voice you think only can come from someone twice her age. And what is so comfortingly familiar are the passionate undertones she carries that may have you remembering the likes of Lucinda Williams and Bonnie Raitt, coupled with a sweet, youthful vibe you haven’t heard since Jewel. This is all wrapped in the unique package of a 20 year old, with a winsome disposition, doll-like features, and an ironic head of hair that cries freedom.
Dylan Taylor is a Southern girl out of Atlanta, Georgia, who wound up in Nashville, Tennessee with her family, and it’s here that she has carved out a loyal following since first playing out at the age of 13. Now, seven years later, Dylan looks back at the life she traversed, and humbly knows her transition into Nashville and becoming a teenager wasn’t exactly the typical middle class upbringing as one may think. Her and her younger sister led an unusual dichotomous life by having a very liberal, civil rights father and a conservative mother as their guides. Dylan never knew she had such a different household until she realized other kids didn’t have parents like hers, with such contrasting points of view. However, she let me know that by having both ends of the spectrum all around her to draw on, it forced her to think for herself and personally choose what to believe--something absolutely essential as a musician and poet.
Dylan came from a family of musicians, and had her work cut out for her in discovering the artist she is today. As a child, she remembers being taught to vocally know and match the organ notes played by her grandfather, a Methodist Minister and organ player for his congregation. Her father, Karl Braun, then took the lead in teaching her the elements of music, being a guitarist himself and a background of his own success with his band, Torino and Braun. He gave Dylan her first guitar when she was 7, and though she was shy to dive in and learn to play, he laid the groundwork for her to succeed. Her father believed in listening to music on a turntable, and that is how Dylan was introduced to music, no CDs or tapes in sight. She took heed of her father’s words, that if she were to find her place in music she needed to learn and understand the skill and passion of all the great musicians. So while she tucked her and her guitar into bed, she listened to the best of the best like The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Jackson Brown, Joan Baez and Carol King. She also grew a great respect for Country and Blue grass artists, and the command they have over their instrument, and really connected with any music that inspired people to do something and become a better person. It is from all these influences that Dylan Taylor started to shape and shift into the artist she couldn’t deny being, and take hold of her gift as storyteller and musician.
Dylan, after allowing the Nashville life to fall into place, slowly but surely found her own niche, and at 13 began playing out in local bars. She reverently learned the ropes of Nashville’s notorious music scene, playing out until the wee hours of the morning and then getting up a few hours later in order to make it to school on time. She explained to me how she realized that if she wanted to be taken seriously as a woman in Nashville, she had to know her guitar backward and forward, and then some. And so she did. She wanted her music to be honest, real, poignant, and is successfully doing so to the point that she has been approached for the topics she sings about, and how it is surprising someone so young could sing of things with such depth and understanding. But, Dylan always knew she was different than other teenagers, and although she graduated high school with an A average, she never really led the normal teenage life, or hung out with other teens in general. And now that she is 20, she does hint to the idea that maybe she missed out on some things, but then quickly adds how she wouldn’t have done anything differently and really enjoys the life is forming around her. Dylan is actually quite grounded in her approach to life. She accepts things that have taken others years to accept. Things like knowing you can’t control everything, which includes whether people are going to like your material or not. And like all musicians, there is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants quality to Dylan: “If you have a reputation, [you] might as well be it,” as she will say. She has no shame for the things she thinks and ultimately sings about. With her signature black outfit on and keepsake jewelry her grandmother left to her, Dylan gets on stage and sings her soul alive. And when it is done, she finds herself more nervous leaving the stage than going on and being able to sing and “do something that means something.” Her song “Bumblebee” is probably most indicative of that sentiment, a metaphor for her art.
Dylan’s music hits in several genres. She is surely in the singer/songwriter arena with elements of Folk Rock to her music, like in the songs “Bumblebee” and “Under the Table.” But there is also a great Country Pop crossover energy found in her songs, notably “I Like That” and “What Was I Thinking,” that could trump Taylor Swift’s bubble gum Country Pop. And what really shouldn’t be overlooked are her Blues/Blue Grass songs like “1000 Miles,” “Whiskey Man,” and “Lie To Me,” which have such a vocal quality, passion and intensity that really isn’t done now a days. But don’t let me sway you, Dylan Taylor has a certain something you will have to hear for yourself.
Originally published in DStripped Magazine
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