SEAN TAYLOR – The Beat Goes On (own label STCD116)

The Beat Goes OnSean Taylor’s new release The Beat Goes On is rich in its soundscape. Taylor plays guitars and piano; producer Mark Hallman plays, mostly, bass, drums and Hammond organ; and Michael Buckley plays saxophone on three tracks – but it feels as though the album is infused on rather more with mood he creates. That, apart from Brian Standefer playing cello on ‘Lament for the Dead’ is it. And yet …. there’s a richness to the album that, other than as contrast, the list above can’t begin to give a sense of.

You can hear it below on the opening track of the album ‘It’s Always Love’. The four verses touch on different aspects of love, building to a concluding “But when you find your soulmate make it last/It’s always love”. There’s jazz, soul, folk in there, all pulled together into a gently insistent sound like a series of incoming waves breaking on shingle.

The title track is a paean to music, touching on both the playing “Dirty up the bass and the drums will swing” and the listening “Tune in when your heart’s broke/Rave on when the love smokes”. ‘Better Times’ makes me smile genially – there’s just a touch of Americana optimism in the arrangement and a lyric which concludes with a plea “Lovers and artists stand tall/In the hope of better times”.  It’s a feelgood song to make you feel warm inside.

‘Nocturne’, as might be intuited from the title, is an instrumental, Taylor having apparently developed a “beautiful obsession” with piano playing during lockdown. It’s paid off. ‘Be My Love In The Rain’ has lyrics from the Robert Frost poem ‘A Line Storm Song’, the music opening the poem to me in a new way (there’s some rather lovely imagery which Taylor’s cheerful melody and playing bring out). ‘Let Kindness Be Your Guide’ is equally sprightly – it has pedal steel as part of its arrangement – on a track where the title tells you everything.

The album begins to change tone again with ‘Back On The Road’ shifting – but only a little – towards the “the low down dirty blues, soul and rock and roll” described in its lyric. ‘Stay With Me’ is another delightful merging of lyric and arrangement “You are the only star in my sky/Stay with me tonight”. The album closes with ‘The Heart of the Ocean’, a piano driven love song to the sea.

I’m intrigued to know how the songs come over live, but I’ll be finding out later this year. Taylor’s website gives dates of a tour in the UK, Holland and Germany between February and May. In the meantime, The Beat Goes On is a beautifully imagined, played and arranged album – tones and flavours mingling gracefully together.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘It’s Always Love’ – official video:

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