A Canadian treasure of extraordinary talent, artist Julian Taylor mines his solo singer-songwriter passion with the new Americana album The Ridge (Howling Turtle Inc), out Friday, June 19.
Co-produced by Julian and longtime collaborator Saam Hashemi, the eight-song album was originally scheduled for a fall release, but Julian decided to release the album sooner in the hope that his songs might bring joy to listeners in troubled times, he said.
“I’d really like the heart of this record and the stories to connect with people,” he said. “These are letters to members of my family. It’s something that everyone has – family (whether chosen or not) and memories.”
The Ridge was recorded at the Woodshed, Blue Rodeo’s studio in downtown Toronto, and the weight of all their recordings at that space must have been radiating from the woodwork, because the influence is palpable; Julian’s album recalls the sound and spirit of Blue Rodeo at its best.
The introspective and often tender content of The Ridge is perfected by a brilliant cast of sympatico musician including Derek Downham, Miranda Mullholland, and Burke Carroll.
The album is also something of a family affair as Julian’s band includes cousins from Kahnawake, Barry Diabo on bass and Gene Diabo on drums/congas. Also featured are Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther of DALA on backing vocals, Kevin Fox on cello and Saam Hashemi on percussion.
The title track and first single, which came out on Apr. 10, is 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. The one eternal truth lies in the presence of the wind. It draws inspiration from the summers that Julian spent with his aunt and grandparents at their farm in B.C.
At 17, inspired by the likes of Dylan, Kerouac, and Richie Havens, Julian spent one summer travelling across America by Greyhound bus and train and by hitchhiking, busking to pay his way. “Ballad of a Young Troubadour” tells that story as well as the one about his former band, Staggered Crossing. His eye takes in both the beauty and the danger of all that time on the road. As the song says, “Each inch of pavement has a story to tell.”
Julian 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,” he said. “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.” (http://shineconcert.ca/bruce-adamson/)
With all tour dates currently on hold due to COVID-19, Julian is doing regular live streaming for his Patreon supporters (https://www.patreon.com/juliantaylormusic).