Julian Taylor “Anthology Vol. 1”

Howling Turtle Inc., 2023

An overdue career retrospective of revered Canadian singer-songwriter Julian Taylor’s diverse work over the past 25 years.

Album cover art for Julian Taylor's 'Anthology Vol. 1'Anthology Vol. 1’ tracks the evolution of Julian Taylor’s sound, from indie rock, soul, and  R&B, to country-tinged, folky roots music, and the progressive strength of his songwriting. The main takeaway from listening to him tackle disparate genres during his career is that he is good at all of them.

Taylor was the frontman for the successful late ‘90s alt-rock band Staggered Crossing (1996-2007), founded while he was still a teenager. The band was very significant to Canadian rock music during that period. Following the band’s breakup, Taylor played in cover bands and later hosted a highly regarded open stage at Dora Keogh bar in Toronto’s Danforth neighborhood. His group The Julian Taylor band was a fusion of pop/rock/R&B/funk, and the marvellous, hook-filled R&B groove ‘Bobbi Champagne’ is included from this era. He began his solo career in 2016, releasing a trilogy of roots albums, ‘Avalanche,’ ‘The Ridge,’ and ‘Beyond The Reservoir,’ the latter two earning him multiple industry awards in Canada.

As a mixed-race artist – Mohawk and West Indian – from ultra-cosmopolitan Toronto, Taylor has generational trauma running on both sides of his family heritage. He survived bad decisions and a somewhat reckless youth, complicated by racism and feelings of incongruity in black and Indigenous communities, but many of his friends didn’t survive. He tells their stories and his own on songs like Long Time Ago,’ ‘City Song,’ and ‘Ballad Of A Young Troubadour.’ Oppression and loss of language, culture, and land are addressed on ‘Stolen Lands’ (an answer song to ‘This Land Is Your Land’) and ‘Seeds,’ about the horrific treatment of children at native schools in Canada. “They tried to bury us / But they didn’t know we were seeds,” he sings on ‘Seeds.’ Although Taylor’s subjects are often painful and heartbreaking, he doesn’t sound angry or bitter. Rather, he sounds as though he has come to a place of acceptance and peace with his past.

Last year’s ‘Beyond The Reservoir’ is considered Taylor’s breakout coming-of-age album. Since acquiring so many new fans from all over the world, it makes sense to give them the backstory of his music and life. This collection documents his spiritual as well as artistic growth. It is definitely a good place to start.


About Kimberly Bright 85 Articles
Indiana native, freelance writer specializing in British, Canadian, and American music and cultural history, flyover states, session musicians, overlooked and unsung artists. Author of 'Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.' You can contact her at kimberly.bright@americana-uk.com.
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