Live! In London is the tenth album by Sean Taylor and is an excellent summary of the man, his music and his history.
Release Date: 27th March 2020
Label: Sean Taylor Songs
Formats: CD / DL
Sean is a singer-songwriter from London who has, for the past 19 years been touring the world, playing anywhere and everywhere that he can and delivering his eclectic blend of musicianship, hard messaging and sheer entertainment to anyone willing to listen. Live! In London includes songs from every one of his albums from 2009’s Calcutta Grove to last year’s The Path Into Blue, as well as incorporating several well adapted covers and is a great compilation for those familiar with his work, or a comprehensive introduction for any new initiates.
Sean is a highly adept guitarist, clearly influenced by John Martyn and capable of demonstrating mastery of the Richard Thompson trick of appearing to play two tunes at the same time; it is sometimes hard to believe that everything you hear on this album is produced by just one player on just one guitar. His vocal style spans a spectrum that includes Tom Waits, John Martyn (again) and Astral Weeks period Van Morrison and his songwriting is unique!
Live! In London is a heady blend of material that provokes thought and entertains in almost equal measure. For example, the album’s opener, Heaven is an ode to heroin, which is then followed by the rocky Texas Boogie, (introduced here as Camden Town Boogie) which chugs along nicely and namechecks Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lighting Hopkins.
Elsewhere, key tracks from the Path Into Blue album keep up the messaging, with Little Donny, an exquisite dig at US President Donald Trump, complete with derogatory references to his groping, wall-building aspirations, racism, misogyny and other endearing traits, This Is England, a rap which critiques our nation’s obsessions with gentrification, social media and, inevitably, Brexit, and Path Into Blue, a thoughtful song about dealing with depression. Stand Up, from 2012’s Love Against Death album is dedicated to Extinction Rebellion and is a call to arms to resist the many injustices faced by the young and downtrodden; there’s a song on this album for anyone with concerns over how the world is currently being run or where it is headed.
The entertainment element meanwhile is presented in songs like Hold On, a percussive guitar showpiece, the bluesy Feel Alright, Skip James’s Hard Time On The Killing Floor, on which Sean requests, and gets, audience participation in the song’s refrain, the Lorca/Heartbreak Hotel medley which morphs from a dreamy guitar piece into a masterful and blues-laden version of the Durden/Axton classic and Troubador, on which Sean once again elicits an audience singalong and on which Sean informs the audience that he’ll be traveling home on the Number 31 bus!
The whole package is wrapped up by the encore, a medley which starts with the guitar pyrotechnics of Sean’s own Basho and then segues into a snippet of Davy Graham’s Anji and then into a lovely hybrid of Anji and Hit The Road Jack, to which the audience once again provide their lusty vocal support.
Live! In London was recorded at The Green Note in Camden Town on the evening of 10 October 2019 and, having enjoyed this selection, I’d like to have been there. Sean does have a number of UK appearances in the pipeline, Covid-19 permitting, and these include appearances at the carbon-neutral Small World Spring festival at Headcorn, Kent on 23 May, Newark Flyin’ Circus on 24 May, the Walled Garden Festival at Thoresby Hall in Sherwood Forest on 11 July, a return to Headcorn to play the Small World Summer Festival on 29 August and the Over the Hill Festival at Cogges Manor Farm, Whitney, Oxforshire on 1 September.
As far as I am aware, each of these events remains slated to go ahead and, on the evidence of the Live! In London album, would be well worth the admission fee.
Listen to Grenfell here: