For the past 13 years since the breakup of Staggered Crossing, the seemingly indefatigable Julian Taylor has, by all appearances, been pushing his music career into a headwind that won him many friends and accolades but little success to show for his effort.
Staggered Crossing had a run of success on Top 40 radio and reasonable returns from a string of EPs and studio albums released on a variety of different labels. A Lee's Palace reunion show scheduled in April this year had to be put on hold because of the pandemic. Sometimes you can’t win for trying.
But that’s changing, and changing fast for Taylor whose star is rising in the UK, thanks to playlist rotation of Just A Little Bit – a three-year-old track taken from his last album (Desert Star, Aporia), on BBC Radio 2, and a growing number of praiseworthy reviews and strong Spotify’s spin numbers on Ballad Of A Young Troubadour that is taken from The Ridge, a rootsy-flavoured autobiographical album that he self-released last week on the newly-minted Howling Turtle label that he has set up.
The charismatic singer, songwriter, musician has long placed his destiny in higher hands, presented himself as a force of positivism in the world, joyous to know and caring about his kid, and those less fortunate than himself. A Canadian-born Toronto resident whose roots are part Caribbean, part Mohawk, and a pop composer whose songs until now forever seem to have fallen between invisible lines that have served like dogma to separate Pop from Rock, R&B from Soul, and Folk from the mainstream. The Ridge is a triumphal album, a perfect antidote for troubled times and a synthesis of everything this prolific songwriter and composer has done before but done without affectation. It's a life story from the heart that is stripped of commercial consideration and the songs shimmer in the light of his own self-reflection.
Along with his newfound momentum, Taylor’s afternoon drive shift at Toronto’s ELMNT-FM continues to blossom. But the definitive words about showbiz success go to Taylor who posted on Facebook this past weekend:
“Today is an important day. It is Juneteenth otherwise known as 'Black Independence Day.' I am a black man with indigenous roots and I am an independent artist. It just so happens that today my new album The Ridge officially gets released into the world and I am proud of the story it tells.
“I have released so many records over the course of my 20-year career. And just like so many of my fellow artist friends when the record was done, I’d brace myself and release it into the world with an everlasting sense of hope that maybe people will enjoy listening to what I created and just maybe my dreams would come true.
“It has always been a long hard battle to get heard and I’m about to do it again. I’d like to send out a sincere thank you to everyone involved in making The Ridge. I’m forever grateful for the brilliant supporting cast who performed on this recording.
“Thank you to my cousins Gene D and Barry Diabo, Saam Hashemi, Miranda Mulholland, Derek Downham, Kevin Fox, Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther of DALA, Burke Carroll, Noah Mintz and Patrick Duffy for their talents.
“I always laugh with friends and tell people that they’re all hits until they’re misses and I’ve honestly failed so many times. Not by my own standards but by the status quo and as I release this new record, I hope that people enjoy listening to it and, so far, the feedback has been wonderful so thank you. I was honestly preparing myself to fail again and that’s ok because in my failings I’ve learnt to grow.
“I’ve learned that no matter how many times I’ve called a radio station in the past and asked them to play my songs and that in the end it doesn’t really matter. I’ve learned that I can send my music to a record label and never hear back from them and that no response is in fact a response but that that doesn’t really matter either. I’ve learned to try and not worry that I wasn’t booked for a music festival this time around because there’s always a next time. I’ve learned to enjoy the success stories of my peers even if I wished I was where there are because I do want my friends and fellow artists to thrive, survive, succeed and be happy.
“I’ve learned that perhaps what I do is best left to me to do because I’m the only one who can do what I do and that that is the reward. That and to hear people humming a melody that I wrote because it’s helping them to drift off and forget what’s troubling them.
“Thank you for always believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself. It happens way more often than I’d like to admit.
“So, with this I release, yet another creation into the world and surrender to the universe as it floats on into the abyss with the hope that it reaches the ears that it’s meant to reach.”
– Julian Taylor’s management, agency, publicity and voice-over contact information here.