Taylor delivers us some musical therapy for these darkest of times.
Gloria Taylor is a singer-songwriter from Southern California whose debut album ‘Go For The Moon’ (2018), offered enough evidence of her talent to whet the appetite for a swift follow-up. That was of course before the global pandemic brought the world to an abrupt standstill and the best-laid plans put on ice. Now during this period many of us will have found different ways to navigate the immense upheaval in our lives but not many will, I’m sure, have found such a productive path or as rewarding as Taylor who volunteered her time as a sound and energy healer, carrying out remote sound-healing sessions for those fighting COVID and impacted by the virus. It was from this action that Taylor found the inspiration for the songs that make up the ‘Sun’ EP using the experience to tell the stories and bittersweet triumphs of the people she worked with.
The opening track ‘100 Different Ways’ quickly sets the mood with an ethereal quality as Taylor invites us into her recent world with its challenges, doubts, and fears, but through all this never losing sight of hope. Lines such as “I stood in the wreckage, asked for a message” unveil the nervous uncertainty of how to heal the wounds and damage that the pandemic had inflicted, whereas “talked about dreaming and where we find meaning to sooth our soul” hints at the method in the mending and finally celebrating and sharing any little victories, “I walked to the fire and felt so inspired to set us free”. Structurally the song’s phrasing is slightly reminiscent of early Paul Simon though Taylor’s voice and delivery has a similarity that harks back to seventies singer-songwriter Judee Sill. The following song ‘Luna’ addresses the madness that grips the world today and suggests it is “time for a revolution” however you feel confident that Taylor’s revolution would stand a long way from weapons and marching soldiers and instead adorn itself with flowers and songs. In many ways Taylor’s music despite lyrically being very topical and relevant for the times still manages to conjure a late sixties vibe with gently strummed guitars accompanying pristine vocals singing of a hope for better days ahead. The only difference perhaps is that back then the hope was sprinkled with a healthy dose of naivety today its soaked in desperation.
The title track to this EP is the third song where Taylor sings of finding the sweet light after the darkness her vocals gently floating over a chiming guitar as fragile as it is defiant, while the following number ‘Sweetness Cries’ celebrates the wonder of life as “Dreams carry light in a sequence of time” to “the birth of a dream you thought you left behind”. This is pure musical therapy as Taylor reminds us how to breathe again, “Oh sweetness cries, I’m alive”. The final track ‘You Know’ addresses the challenges of starting again, dealing with the anger at what is lost but knowing you’ve regained the strength to continue. Throughout the EP Gregg Montante’s production sympathetically caresses each song taking great care not to impede or distract from the message and though it could be argued that the pace never changes and that the songs do come dangerously close to seeping into each other, because there are just five songs that are thematically all linked, it works.
2023 brings the promise of a new full-length album from Taylor but in the meantime you could do a lot worse than let a little ‘Sun’ into your life through these dark months and enjoy the therapy it brings.