Ben TaylorAnother Run Around The Sun - Album Review
Ben Taylor has music in his genes. Quite literally. The offspring of James Taylor and Carly Simon, Ben has an excess of relatives, including his sister Sally, who have taken up the family trade. So it's no surprise that his third record Another Run Around The Sun is a legitimate effort, filled with melodic hooks and smooth acoustic numbers.
Produced by actor/musician Kevin Bacon, Another Run Around The Sun is Taylor's first album recorded without his band. It seems having gone solo, Taylor is fully embracing the influence his father had on him growing up.
Ben's vocals are less rootsy than James' but the country-tinged chorus on the record's first single and first track Nothing I Can Do is heavily reminiscent of dad. The song is good enough, but isn't anything we haven't heard before. In the context of the record, it's a mediocre choice to open with, as well as for a first single, because it's too forgettable.
The CD becomes more seductive, however, as it continues. The second track, Always, has a sweeping chorus of Taylor and his sister harmonizing "Always… always…" The simplicity is beautiful.
I'll Be Fine is the album standout, showcasing Taylor when he seems like he's having the most fun. The track proves one of the more interesting and complex, utilizing a horn section, driving bass rhythm and hum-along bridge. It goes a bit off the path from the rest of the album and provides a glimmer of distinctiveness in Taylor's songwriting that isn't as apparent elsewhere.
His voice will draw comparisons to his father's smooth and simple delivery but it's less country and carries a smoky overtone similar to Jack Johnson or John Mayer. But whereas Johnson and Mayer appeal to a wide audience, Taylor's songwriting ability doesn't seem like it will transcend beyond adult contemporary radio.
Taylor's lyrical talent comes more from his delivery rather than verbiage. With rhythm-oriented verses that almost always rhyme, they seem hip-hop inspired when read from the page. "Stronger than habit and fantasy / Deeper than gravity / What will has to be / God planned it I understand it / I hadn't imagined you'd leave me stranded," he croons on Digest. Fans of Amos Lee will find it familiar, and the rhythmic wording is one of the record's best qualities.
It was always going to be hard for the 29-year-old to emerge from the shadow of his father, but it will be even harder considering how much he sounds like the "Fire and Rain" singer. With or without the matching last name the record would draw comparisons – but that's not a bad thing. The record is a strong, – if slightly lacklustre – effort from the rock heir.
Another Run Around The Sun is released 30 October in the UK.
- Stephanie Hall
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