Sean Taylor – Lockdown (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/44,1kHz | Time – 48:38 minutes | 519 MB | Genre: Blues
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Sean Taylor Songs
London-based singer-songwriter Sean Taylor is a musician’s musician, admired as much for his creative blend of Americana and folk as for his distinctive guitar-playing and his willingness to tackle social issues through sound. He has toured across the globe, supporting the likes of Tony Joe White, Richard Thompson and John Fogerty. Now, several albums on from 2006’s debut Corrugations, Taylor is back with Lockdown, a set recorded at home, with overdubs from long-time collaborator Mark Hallman, who provides bass, organ, lap-steel and harmonica, and saxophone by Joe Morales. While other artists have taken inspiration from the turbulence of 2020, Taylor looks the coronavirus, with all its political and social implications, square in the eye.
Title-track Lockdown opens the set, with deep, looped beats, spectral piano and spare, ringing strings. It is an immediately affecting track, with some beautiful, liquid keys and cloaks of synth-washes. A jazzy, bluesy meander through urban landscapes transformed by fear and disease. Lockdown is sparsely wonderful, a modern fairytale which treads the line admirably between pathos and hope. Palestine shimmers under grey skies, a visceral sonic imagining of history and suffering. Taylor’s spoken-word vocals are deeply affecting, spiralling in and around the music with great weight and depth. There is nothing of the preacher in Taylor, his words slip under your defences and into your soul, a hypnotic connection from human to human. “All along the watchtower, the IDF keep the view,” intones Taylor, and his voice evokes images and radiates echoes of lamentation which cannot be ignored.
Herd Immunity Part 1 crackles and spits with indignation, as it rightly should. “If you repeat a lie often enough, you can write it on the side of a bus,” speaks Taylor. The music beneath his striking vocals swirls with restrained madness. Glittering whirlpools of guitar, keys and synth chase and rise and fall. “Stay alert. Die quietly. Don’t complain.” In a lesser musician’s hands, this might come off as overly didactic, but Taylor’s heart and sincerity shine though. With muscular, supple backing, straight-talking, insightful lyrics and an elegant maelstrom of sound, Herd Immunity Part 1 is a strong a musical statement as you could wish for.
No Borders, a paean to multiculturalism and diversity, sparkles in grey-scale colours, blossoming out into a gorgeous pastel vista, alternating spoken-word with a sung chorus. Taylor’s meditative, mantra-like delivery is a joy. He is a poet, his thoughts floating high above, looking down from the proverbial bird’s-eye view upon a world filled with promise. Ringing guitar, slow-changing keys and nuanced harmonies circle beneath, lifting the voice to new heights. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, forever a deeply moving composition, provides an intriguing counterpoint. Taylor’s piano is percussive and expressive, sitting somewhere between the classical and Thelonious Monk. Fur Elise follows in the same style, and the two make for a fine listen.
By far the funkiest, most strident track, The March Is On, serves as a rallying call against unbridled capitalism and the destruction wrought in the cause of greed. It’s a thumping, dangerous song, with an irresistible blues beat. “With peace and love, we are rebels for life.” With squalling guitars over a smouldering, swampy arrangement, Black Lives Matter takes us out. Echoing the soul and drive of Gil Scott-Heron, with loving jazzy adornments, it is a great way to end the show.
In an era strangely bereft of socially and politically conscious music, it’s a pleasure to hear Sean Taylor at work, and a great reminder of how vital art can be in pursuit of a better, fairer society. Regardless of your political leanings, Lockdown is a terrific album which deserves to be heard.
01. Sean Taylor – Herd Immunity, Pt. 1
02. Sean Taylor – The March Is On
03. Sean Taylor – No Borders
04. Sean Taylor – Moonlight Sonata
05. Sean Taylor – Black Lives Matter
06. Sean Taylor – Palestine
07. Sean Taylor – Fur Elise
08. Sean Taylor – Herd Immunity, Pt. 2
09. Sean Taylor – Lockdown
10. Sean Taylor – Free to Do as We Tell You