Julian Taylor's 'The Ridge' Is Warm, Heartfelt Roots Rock from a Toronto Songwriting Vet

Julian Taylor's 'The Ridge' Is Warm, Heartfelt Roots Rock from a Toronto Songwriting Vet
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Julian Taylor strides along in The Ridge, weaving masterful lyricism with songs as warm as the summer breeze.

The onetime Staggered Crossing frontman sings of love and life and moving on, taking a dive into roots and folk in the vein of Blue Rodeo and Jason Isbell. That's a departure from Taylor's excellent work in blues and soul; his ample experience as a veteran of Toronto's recording scene is evident here.

In "Over the Moon" and "Love Enough," Taylor treads familiar territory — but with a gentleness that is made ever-more sweet with a warm guitar and moonlit piano tapping out love songs for a fireside romance.

Taylor's compositions are multi-layered, and the slide and twang of guitar weaves oh-so-sweetly with piano and fiddle. While sometimes his songwriting edges towards clichés — in generalizing emotions and feelings in uninspired ways — those moments are fairly rare.

Instead, songs like "The Ridge," which complicates feelings of rural nostalgia, brim with emotion and remind us of the power of a well-crafted roots song which dives into the past.

Taylor isn't comfortable resting on his laurels either. "It's Not Enough" features an extremely catchy chorus as it explores a complicated relationship in a tired world: "It's not enough enough to just be perfect / You gotta be worth it / If you're going to try."

It's these songs that cement Taylor in the upper echelons of the Canadian roots rock scene; it's forgivable, then, that a couple of these tracks trade intimacy for the general trappings of love songs.

Either way, these are warm melodies, welcome during a tumultuous summer of change and introspection, thanks to a seasoned songwriter whose latest album is crafted with meticulous care. (Howling Turtle)