Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kim Taylor

Due for the Big Time, Love’s A Dog 
Delivers Quicksilver Joy

Kim Taylor at WNKU's Studio 89
     Kim Taylor performed acoustically during WNKU’s Studio 89 in the Digitorium at NKU on Monday night.  This is an economical way to see some wonderful talent in a unique space and be part of a live show on the best radio station in
the region.  The schedule is on the WNKU website.

Kim with Dexter's
Business Card
     We were there, though, to see Kim Taylor because we’ve been fans since moving to Pleasant Ridge and stopping in regularly at the Pleasant Perk, which was the sweet little coffee shop she used to own and run.  I bought a CD she had sitting on the counter because I like supporting local talent.  The moment the first song started, we both said “Wow, she’s really a professional singer with her own sound.”   We were hooked with I Feel Like A Fading Light and continued to keep up with her career, attending live performances when possible, and collecting her albums as they were released.  She earned a mantelpiece of Cincinnati Entertainment Awards from 2002 – 2010 and landed a number of her songs on TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Justified, and Days of our Lives.

     Jimi Zhivago has been her professional partner in producing her recorded work.  Her genre is very much a contemporary singer-songwriter with roots in Blues, country, soul, and ‘70s pop rock.  Her sound feels like Norah Jones singing Chrissie Hynde’s songs or Stevie Nicks collaborating with Joni Mitchell.  Those comparisons are reductive, but it’s the only way I can think of to attract potential fans to her music.  Zhivago produced her earlier albums with a spare elegance that sounded like a major label, while keeping the major focus on her voice.  

     Love’s A Dog is Kim Taylor’s latest album, though it won’t be released until the fall.  It deserves national attention because it’s the summation of her career so far and it moves her into a new direction that smartly aims at wider radio play.  One thing to remember is that practically any artist that won or was nominated in the rock/pop/alternative Grammy categories this year most likely played on WNKU three to five years ago.   Love’s A Dog is also aurally gorgeous.  Zhivago keeps her voice, literally and figuratively, front and center, but augments the arrangements with a variety of instrumentations that pushes the sound further into the mainstream.

     It’s a collection that presents Taylor as professional artist, woman, wife, and mother with a direct philosophical and spiritual viewpoint.  She signifies her attitude right off with “Open” and then her strength with “Like A Woman Can.”  The title track “Love’s A Dog,” with its double entendre could be a mainstream hit for her.  It has a syncopated rhythm and a witty lyric.  “You Are So Beautiful”, on the other hand, is an ethereal love song and that line can ring for days in your head.  The seventh through ninth tracks (“We Are Washed,” “When I Lay Down,” and “American Child”) constitute a mini-cycle that could be the worldview of a modern woman or a pioneer looking forward hopefully.  “American Child” is a great song and was lovely on her previous album, but here it reverberates as it recalls the past (America’s and Taylor’s) and an optimistically uncertain future.  This part of the album – and, yes, it has been thought out as a long form work of commercial art – is mythic, but Taylor smartly ends on a more specific, personal vein with “Trainwreck,” which feels like a grace note.

     Check out Kim Taylor’s website and stay posted.  Love’s A Dog is a keeper as Kim Taylor continues upward into the greater spotlight she so richly deserves.

I'm hoping she does a song about cats on her next album.

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