We have espoused the exploits of Julian Taylor and his band, the Julian Taylor Band, since the early days of The Revue. He’s , considered by many within the Toronto music community as one of the hardest-working artists in the area, performing with countless number of other musicians and bands in addition to his own work. He’s also one of the great guys on the planet, always positive and friendly and nothing negative will come from his mouth or his music.
All these traits – hardworking, genuine, positive – are exhibited on his new EP, Desert Star, his second effort in 18 months following 2014’s Tech Noir. The EP will actually be part of a two-part release with this first titled Who Could Ask for Anything More.
The album represents a change-of-pace for the Toronto musician, whose previous efforts were much more soul and funk oriented. More specifically, it’s a diversification of Taylor and his band’s sound. On the album‘s title track, the bands adopts a melodic, pop sound on this love ballad. “Just A Little Bit” is a melange of genres – soul, Caribbean, funk, and rock mixed into one. It’s a fun, catchy track.
“Bobbi Champagne” is another slower track. A bit funky, a bit of southern rock feel to it, the song echoes of another great Toronto band, The Philosopher Kings. “Say Goodnight” is even slower and more heart-felt love song. This combined with the titled track, you can’t but think that Taylor has found the love of his life.
Where the band channels their past is on “Heard Good Things”. This rocker of a track has a touch of soul and a whole lot of southern flair to it a la The Black Crowes. The track also provides the one opportunity for Taylor to showcase his underrated guitar skills, Steve Pelletier’s driving bass line, and Jeremy Elliott’s emphatic drumming. It also allows David Engle to demonstrate how keys can play an essential component to a rock tune, completing the hard rhythms of the song. “Heard Good Things” should please the rock fans in the audience.
Desert Star isn’t necessarily Taylor and his band’s best work, but it does show that the band is willing to test new grounds and push themselves. This bit of experimentation should only help as the band starts to write and record Part II of Desert Star. Part I, though, is a solid, solid start.
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