Being a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar is arguably the most difficult genre to get noticed in. Whether you are a male or female the formula that seems to be used most often revolves around melancholy, intimate lyrics with intimate production as if you are in the room and of course the artist must be tortured in some way. I don’t think this combination is necessarily a bad thing but for whatever reason it seems to be ubiquitous.
Taylor Kirkwood is an artist from Peterborough, Ontario and falls in line with the aforementioned attributes. On his recent release Debut EP his four songs revolve around his guitar and vocals. He does implement other instrumentation such as orchestral strings but it's mostly ornamental dressing.
Kirkwood writes melancholy pop songs. I wouldn’t call his music folk. To be more specific his songs feel more appropriate on FM radio. He is a good singer but has a common vocal style that you have most likely heard before. Kirkwood has that masculine voice that sounds like it’s a splice of Chad Kroeger mixed with other like-minded vocalists.
He kicks things off with “Sober” which was the highlight of the EP. I especially enjoyed the beginning where he manages to pull in some nostalgia and hope with the melancholy. Right off the bat he paints the picture of the tortured artist. He sings, “I'm drowning in a pool of doubt / I can’t find my own way out / I looked to you for help / But you’re not sober.” As the song progresses Kirkwood’s lyrics can refer to an estranged lover or actual drug use or maybe both. I liked how he kept it somewhat ambiguous.
On the next rack “Repeat Offender” Kirkwood sings about regret and isolation sequentially feeding the trope of the tortured artist while “Hold The Blame” is a bit more life affirming and even hopeful.
He closes with “Save Anything” which has a solid guitar riff. I have to say this song has a bit of a Goo Goo Dolls vibe. Take that for what it is but it's arguably the best-written song out of the four. Kirkwood more or less sings about a person (most likely a lover) who is the shining light amongst his pit of despair.
Debut EP will resonate with a large, broad demographic of people. There is a reason this genre is still popular and it's because a lot of people enjoy it. You may or may not but I don’t think you will have to listen too long to realize if this is your cup of tea.
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