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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cody Taylor's Debut Album

Hey you kids, follow @Provo_Music on Twitter to get all my fast updates, first impressions, and snarky comments (mostly the latter)!

Cody Taylor has finally finished his self-titled debut album. He has been performing in and around Provo for quite some time, perfecting his sound and working on the album. Cody plays a fairly traditional form of singer/songwriter folk, similar to artists such as Damien Rice, Elliott Smith, and even Nickel Creek. His shows are often just him with an acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by someone on violin or cello. The raw emotion he displays gives Cody the individuality that otherwise might be lacking in such a traditional American genre.

I was able to obtain a copy of Cody Taylor's Cody Taylor last week and have hopefully given it enough listens for an honest review (or in Cody's own words, "brutally honest"). To start off, the album is good. Very good. The more and more I hear from local artists, the more I am convinced that the only difference between the unknown and famous is exposure. Take a listen to the album's third track, "Don't Go":

This song was recorded quite a long time ago, but it no less fits right into the album. It's catchy, fast, and would not be out of place on a Top 40 station (that almost seems like an insult coming from me, but I mean it as a compliment). If my math is correct, that song was recorded while he was still in high school, showing a much more mature musician/songwriter than his age might indicate.

While the album has its share of energetic songs such as "Criminal Virtue" and "Ralphie", most the record is slower and softer. But the album never drags and never bores. The songwriting is so good that Cody succeeds where others routinely (especially around here) fail.

Cody has one of the best singing voices in town, something I know on a personal level as he makes me look like a drunk karaoke singer in our Backstreet Boys cover for Reliving the 90s. He showcases a wide vocal range, from the baritone of "Timeless" to the tenor of "Love, Love, Love". Despite the professional quality of both his voice and the recording, it still feels somewhat raw thanks to the emotion injected into every note.  I mentioned in my review of Cody's house show that he puts more emotion into his performances than anyone else in Provo, and that carries right into the LP.

The instrumentation of Cody Taylor is not to be ignored either. With a background heavily steeped in orchestrated heavy metal, Cody makes sure to keep things interesting. Harmonica, strings, and mandolin are scattered throughout the songs, giving them their folky flavor. The string arrangements are marvelous. While I do not know how much of the album is actually performed by Mr. Taylor himself or by other musicians, I can say that everything is very clean and very well recorded. Cody's perfectionism has paid off in that aspect.

The album only suffers in that the song order feels a bit awkward. I can't say I have suggestions on how to fix it or that I wouldn't have made the same choices if put in Cody Taylor's shoes, but it doesn't feel very cohesive. None of the songs are subpar and some are spectacular, but as a whole it feels disjointed. Thanks to the fact that it took so long to record, it ends up feeling more like a compilation and less like an album.

The worst part of the album though is that I have it in my iTunes playlist, and as soon as it ends, Coldplay's "Don't Panic" starts. I have since deleted Coldplay from my computer. Now it segues into Colin James Hay's "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin", one of my favorite songs.

The album will officially be released next week on Thursday, March 24 at the Release Show at Velour with the Second Estate, Donnie Bonelli, and Wolves. Cody will be playing with a full band, an experience I have personally wanted to see for a long time. If you want to pre-order the album at a cheaper cost, e-mail Cody himself. You can also download it from The CD shows that local artists can do it just as good if not better than famous acts, and you would do a lot to support that cause by purchasing a copy.

You can also buy the album on iTunes! And I suggest you do.


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