Home Album review Julian Taylor – Anthology Vol. 1

Julian Taylor – Anthology Vol. 1

Julian Taylor on the Gordon Lightfoot stage. Photo by Pierre Rivard.

Julian Taylor’s newest album, Anthology Vol. 1, is an ode to the travels that took him to where he is today as one of Toronto’s eminent contemporary folk forces.

The album is a culmination of Julian’s quarter-century of music-making — reflecting on a life spent traveling from city to city with the intention of self discovery. The album unfolds like a wave tonally, spending its first third in calm acoustic melodies that crescendo energetically by the midpoint. The album is bookended by Julian’s early work as part of Staggered Crossing and alongside Blank Tape Levy.

From “City Song,” vividly narrating Julian’s short stints in Regina and Quebec City selling his guitar and baseball cards as a young poor musician to the ever-popular “Ballad of a Young Troubadour,” the first portion of Anthology Vol. 1 is a curated recounting of resilience and unwavering commitment to a dream — now revisited over two decades later.

The middle third of Julian’s album is where it springs into life after lulling the listener in with Julian’s introspective acoustic musings. “Sweeter” introduces a rock appeal to the album, before the chorus of “Set Me Free” explosively releases the tension that has been subtly building since “Back Again.”

This phase of the collection exudes Julian’s now grown-up confidence and swagger, from the beat-riding, key changing smoothness of “Bobbi Champagne” to Julian’s whispered vocals in “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The boldness of songs like “Set Me Free” and “Just a Little Bit” pay off all the more sweeter when compounded by the album’s earlier exploration into Julian’s roots.

Sonically, the album is rich with the elements of what you’d come to expect from the roots-oriented folk guitarist, as Julian toes the line between soul and folk before delving into rock infused with a dose of Ray Charles-esque funk. Julian’s genre-bending is on full display, and Julian flexes his muscles lyrically as well. The album is packed with clever lyrics, like in the chorus to “Seeds, in which Julian says “they tried to bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds.”

Julian’s collection presents itself as a compass, stressing the importance of keeping moving, asking “are we there yet?” and frequently pushing oneself to “get back up again” in search of that far away dream.


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