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ALBUM REVIEWS

TAYLOR KELLY-UP UP AND AWAY

SELF RELEASED- August 1, 2019

Taylor Kelly. Taylor Kelly. Taylor Kelly.

That's a name that one as a serious music fan should be knowing and not the Billboard charting, award winning country pop

princess who is also named "Taylor"(no disrespect to her).

But you can't compare the two.

Last season, we featured this shining star on the rise singing her soul, face, and whatever else off on the show performing at one of our favorite venues in the city, Bourbon & Branch.  We stumbled upon her by accident as we were originally scheduled to feature another act that night but long story short, things didn't work out and Ms. Kelly was happy to accept the invitation on being on the BUZZ!

Just as previously stated, Taylor did her thing and amazed the audience and viewers with her voice and stage presence. We kept in contact with her and we were excited for the arrival of her new album titled "Up Up and Away". The title of the album speaks of who she is as, as a person and her talent. Beautifully recorded and mixed in Philadelphia(with appreciation to Headroom Studios and Studio Flamingo), this album is filled with elements of soul, funk, jazz, R&B, a tad bit of rock , Latin soul and a bit of big band. The title track(Up Up and Away)opens up this album and it is definitely inviting the listener to go with her up up and away as her voice takes you up on a magical journey to the heavens. 

"JWYTK" is the second cut that continues the flow and momentum going from the first track. Whoever did the track sequencing knew what they were doing as it is so important. This album is no longer a ride. It is story being told. Now I am ready for more. It already has you.

Here comes "Taco Night"! Now I want tacos(even though I am more of a burrito and quesadilla man). From hearing this cut, she's not singing about hanging out at Taco Bell; a.k.a. "dog food in a shell". But get this: SHE HAS A GUEST!

Not just any guest. She has a guest rapper and this isn't just some corny attempt to reach the black audience like many that you hear on commercial radio these days. It is none other than Norristown native, MC Mic Stewart(who dropped some lyrical science on the Death by Bong episode back in January 2018). His voice and flow fit the track  perfectly. This is a smoking groover for those who dig not only soul but real hip hop. This is a banger on the real. Already the ante has been steadily going up.  The hip hop and soul vibe doesn't end there. "Love Is Blind" keeps that ride going and it is more upbeat with a funky drum beat reminiscent of the classic b-boy breakbeats that will make someone want to uprock and do a six-step. This features another local MC making noise and her name is Queen Jo(from Jo Darling and Ill Vibe). Her flow is definitely tight on this cut. The only thing that is missing is some real turntable scratching(not excessive). I can hear a remix of this one. Where is my boombox?

Even though "Love Is Blind" shares the same name as the 1999 combo track released by Philly native rapper, Eve and Faith Evans, it's a totally different vibe.

 

"Run Away' kinda brings it back down some. I see what she does here. She doesn't want this ship to pick up too much speed so early on. Very experimental with a cosmic soul jazz vibe. I am also picking up some a little hint of  jungle and drum and bass during the break section. This is a late night smooth groove. I have heard "Tell Me" performed live a couple of times and have always enjoyed it. This is one of the rare occasions where a song sounds awesome in studio and live. The horn section plays this passage as the second half of the song gets hype that sounds like "Spice Up Your Life" by The Spice Girls. Oh and get this! There's another guest appearance featuring another MC and his name is Ler Stevens. The false ending dropout that surprises you with the horns waking up the listener reminding you that it's not over yet is also clever, amusing and nicely done. "California" is a Philly's girl call out to heading to the West Coast. This sounds like a sweet homage to the Quincy Jones productions from 1979 to the early 80s with the background vocal arrangements sounding like the late Rod Temperton (who was a member of Heatwave and went on to become one of the most prolific songwriters of all time writing hits for Michael Jackson like "Rock With You" and "Thriller"). "Bad Dreams" gives off another vibe like the listener has popped a some kind of pill and is now on a cosmic, psychedelic, jazzy funk trip which makes you feel like you are running from from whatever is haunting your dreams and fate is unknown with the abrupt cut off. The singsong melody reminds me of "Sun Goddess" by Ramsey Lewis. I swear this girl was born in the wrong time period. "Run To Me" returns to form and you can't help but sing along to the hook. This sounds like a radio friendly jam. Someone was taking a page out of Adele's book. Those horns do it again. Now the bad part and in a way, it's a tearful ending(not in a bad way). "Fall In Love" closes out the album and I have seen her do this number live and she brings down the house each time. She does it in the recording, warning the listener not to make her fall in love. This brings the ship down to a safe landing as the journey is over and it's time to go home. The fade out with the piano playing the melody is a satisfying end to a wonderful album.

What more I can say? Taylor Kelly's Up Up And Away is a solid album filled with beautiful songs that fit all the moods. It makes you want to bop your head, relax, meditate or get up, get down, get funky and get loose. There is something also angelic about Taylor's voice. There are songs which utilize a few effects but she doesn't over do it and it comes out sounding pretty good for the theme she was going for. It's not the played out autotune(she doesn't need it). You can feel her emotions when you listen to her voice. The band was tight and the horns were crisp and right on point. Not sloppy and all over the place. They were together. No trumpet was overblown and they were mixed properly. You can actually feel the bass lines and every drum beat on these songs. Everything stayed on course and never lost their tempo. The lengths of the songs were short and sweet. They left you wanting more. That's okay. Just play the song back.

I have told Ms. Kelly after her performance on the show that I immediately thought of the old school style jazzy soulful singers that sweated the whole nine yards. Great ones that came and went before her like Aretha, Otis Redding, early 70's Steve Wonder with hints of Earth, Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis, early Kool & The Gang, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, a little Teena Marie and more. I could damn near see a record label logo on her like Atlantic, Columbia, Stax and even Philly International. She's a mixture of Philly soul with the Muscle Shoals sound with a little bit of Blue Note added with some Okayplayer. This album needs a vinyl release. I can almost her the fish frying sounds in between the tracks. I can say the Berklee College of Music should be proud of their alumnus and what she has accomplished. To put her in the Neo soul category is totally unfair.

Up Up And Away, an album worth having in your music collection. Soul music is returning.

Final Rating: A Five on the Black Hand Side!

Great going, Taylor!

~TG Gainey

  Executive Producer, Brightstar Buzz.