The Search Within
Listening to Gileah Taylor is like watching a great movie. You know the stars and you know the plot and you're maybe not even in the mood, but somehow within a few moments you get sucked in and before you know it, it's over and you wish it wasn't. In the movies, it begins the moment you forget the names of the actors and the characters take over. With The Golden Planes, Gileah's recent release, the characters take over quickly. Perhaps it is her voice, perhaps the simplicity and sincerity of her music. No matter, because if you have a heart at all, by the end the music will envelop you and take you away.
The Golden Planes captures that private place which was so popular not long ago, that search into the bowels of despair, except that there is no despair here. Somehow, Gileah has defused the angst of youth without ignoring the depths to which we all fall now and again. As you listen, tiny bubbles of hope rise to the surface. No slashed wrists, no drugs. Just the never ending search for, what? Truth?
Medicine is a prime example. She breaks down scorned love into a usable form without losing her sense of self. You left with all my medicine, she sings, No doctor in the world could heal me now, could heal me now, and that simple repetition strikes with reverberative force. She uses that repetition again in Say You Love Me, repeating the title phrase over and over as end to a floating and beautiful cry for love. Just carries it even further, simple piano and organ (synth?) chords laying the magic carpet on which Gileah lays her soul: Take me to a new place, love/Sing to me a new song, baby/Fly me to the moon, my angel/Fly me to the moon, my angel. You have to hear it to understand. Few have done so much with two chords and voice. The ending of For Things Beyond is pure delight, Gileah's light chorus harmonized perfectly by Ava Quigley whose voice rivals Gileah's in purity and innocence. Sameness of death, Gileah sings. Chaos of love, fury of life is the answer. Beauty of truth, sings Gileah. Chaos of love, fury of life is the answer. Glory of God, sings Gileah. Chaos of love, fury of life comes the answer. Repeat. Done. Simple, breathtaking.
We've all experienced those moments in love when we know there is something wrong and cannot get the other person to talk. Those moments are encapsulated in Comfortable, intense yet supportive. It isn't all about her as it is in most songs of this sort. I won't think you are stupid or ridiculous, she cries, I want you to know what concerns you concerns me. Most of us wish we could be so adult about the basest human emotion. Love lost is the theme again in White Florida Sun, ending with the simplest of analogies: The house has won again.
Other people have compared Gileah to Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Leigh Nash (Sixpence None the Richer), Karen Bergquist (Over the Rhine). Of these, I have heard only Nash and there may be slight similarities in the timbre of the voice, but Gileah lives in an altogether other realm. There is quiet innocence in her childlike voice which adds another dimension to her message. But really, does it matter? Music this good should simply not be compared because at that point, we miss the point.
Lest I forget, this was a team effort, though Gileah be the centerpiece. Husband Chris Taylor did a great job producing and provides ample reason to follow his own music (his guitar is incredibly tasteful). Kevin Woerner's bass is understated, as it should be here, and as I stated before, Ava Quigley's voice is a perfect harmonic match. Big thumbs up.
If you're at all intrigued, a visit to Gileah's website is in order. There you will find info and links crucial to understanding and hearing her story and her music. Let's call it Adventures in Music. If, by chance, you should wish to sample some songs and possibly purchase the CD, those options are available at CDbaby. It could be the adventure of the year.