Welcome to Boombox Blitz, an artist spotlight series showcasing overlooked singers, songwriters and musicians who are quietly taking over the world.
It’s not so easy to uphold a musical legacy. From Paris Jackson to James McCartney, many offspring of juggernaut musicians have treaded water in their attempts at leaving a mark. Meanwhile, the likes of Ziggy Marley and Rosanne Cash have more than pulled their weight in an industry marred by copy-cats and an influx of wannabe posers. Singer and songwriter Joel Taylor, originally from Sydney, Australia, seems to be next in line in continuing a cool blend of country, jazz and soul with the release of his double-sided Two Sides, featuring the title cut (eerily reminiscent of Billy Joel) and the stormy “What Good is Love.” Both tracks were mixed by Bob Clearmountain, known for his work with Sister Sledge, Bryan Adams, David Bowie, and Hall & Oates.
Both Taylor’s grandfather and father led remarkable and admirable careers on varied music scenes: from learning to play boogie-woogie piano from the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis and performing in Col Joye & the Joy Boys (one of Australia’s earliest ’50s rock bands) to fronting swing bands in the ’70s, respectively. Meanwhile, his mother taught him the gripping style of New Orleans, a tradition passed down from her father. When you witness Taylor’s sharp songwriting, anchored with a gutting warble, you get the sense you are experiencing something never before seen or heard. Even when he’s ripping the roof off the joint, he remains calm and grounded. Fun fact: the first song he ever learned to play was none other than Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”
There’s a reason actress Courteney Cox has been such a dedicated champion, subsequently directing the stark, glowing clip for Taylor’s “Two Sides” ballad. “A friend of mine introduced me to Joel during a musical night at my house where friends and visitors gather to play music,” she said. “That’s when I heard Joel sing and play and realized how talented he is.” With Hollywood’s magic-themed bar Black Rabbit Rose as the backdrop, the setting allows the focus to close in on Taylor and his piano skills–the acoustic rearrangement is haunting and his voice has never sounded so pristine and irresistible.
Cox has also helmed visuals for Foy Vance and Kodaline.
On the meaning behind “Two Sides,” Taylor has stated, “On the one hand, I’m a very easy-going, gregarious Australian who likes to have a good time,” he says. “But I can also be quiet, extremely introverted, brooding and stuck inside my own head.”
Two Sides is out now on iTunes, and you can spin it below, via Spotify: