On my first hearing of Scarlett Taylor’s music I was reminded of Lana Del Rey and Chrysta Bell - both being artists I adore. But now I have listened to Scarlett’s second album “Churches” a few times, I now enjoy it on its own merits, no longer drawing comparisons to other artists.
Churches is tagged as being “Sadcore” on Soundcloud and I had to research exactly what that was. Wikipedia’s definition states:
… [Sadcore] characterised by bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos. The term is an example of use of the suffix “-core”. It is a loose definition and does not describe a specific movement or scene.
Wikipedia definition of Sadcore
That seems like an accurate stylistic description, but the resulting feelings I get from the music, especially Scarlett’s, is anything but bleak or downbeat. I find nearly all music gives me a lift of some sort, and this includes “Churches”. From out of the darkness and delivery, the music uplifts and creates in me, the feeling of reflection.
The album’s opening song, “Fucked Up”, was the first one I heard before knowing about this album. The song found its way into a soundcloud playlist and I found myself skipping back to listen to it again and again. Although I can’t pick out a bad song from the album, that opening song is still a stand out one for me.
“Fucked Up” opens with a drone effect and Scarlett’s voice, which immediately blew me away with both her power and the way she delivers. She manages to weave her voice around a song’s structure, dancing in the darkness of the song’s core, not being held in too tightly to the rhythm.
The second song “Crazy” stays in the same vein as “Fucked Up” and by now I was fully immersed in the world of “Churches”.
“Imprisoned” is the album’s third song and it is actually a remix version that has found it’s way on. The song opens with a passage from rapper Zay, who himself is part of a Minnesota-based rap group, “The Truants”. This gives the album a new flavour and dynamic without straying too far from her signature sound.
At the halfway point of Churches there sits the beautiful ballad “Ignite”. “Ignite” strips away all of the drone effects and electronic backing and presents Scarlett’s voice bare with an accompanying piano. If I was to give you one song to demonstrate her abilities as a singer it would be this one. It’s so great. And its build up towards the end gives the song an equally beautiful climax.
One of the album’s most haunting songs for me was “Christmas Eve”. Her brooding vocals over a string pedal tone. So emotional and seems to pull me into it every time I hear it. It’s dangerous for me to listen to this one when I’m driving. Also it never fails to give me that Twin Peaks vibe.
Scarlett Taylor would sound great at the Roadhouse.
Some people hear emotive music like this and immediately say things like “That sounds depressing” or “Is there anything more upbeat?”. These are people I want to slap.
I mean, yes, most people wouldn’t get dressed up to go for a night on the town while listening to an album like this. I probably would, but that’s another topic all together. But to dismiss music like this as depressing is, in my opinion, completely closed minded.
We are lucky to have artists like Scarlett Taylor, who openly bare their souls in their writing and performances; artists who remind us what it is to be human.