Music

Talking with Country Music’s BRIT TAYLOR about her new album, REAL ME

Brit Taylor (photo: Sarah Cahill)

If the past year has been good for anything, it’s been good for clarifying things. For instance, country music lovers now know just how much they truly miss it all—the clubs, the concerts, the sharing of music with friends. They also know that the time has come to demand bonafide country music from Nashville. Meet Brit Taylor—an actual country music-loving artist that has broken onto the scene with an album (REAL ME) that’s full of just about all that makes country music great, including honky-tonk, swing—and even a waltz (have I gone to Heaven?)! Just when country music needs a boost of fresh enthusiasm, it has arrived in Brit Taylor. Her emergence as one of the most promising voices in country music is truly a reason to look forward to 2021, and beyond.

As for the album, it is superbly produced by Dave Brainard, featuring Mike Bourque on guitar and Adam Chaffins on bass and backing vocals. Throughout the album, Brit Taylor puts a contemporary vibe on traditional country sounds. If you like your country music authentic—and maybe even with a comforting East Kentucky accent—Brit Taylor’s Real Me is here to remind you of your love of a good chord and a great lyric. It’s an album that covers not only a lot of emotional longitude, but also an equal amount of nuanced latitude. Each track conveys just the right atmosphere, attitude, and intensity, resulting in Brit Taylor’s seeming ability to put across jus about any type of song in country music with complete authority. In a collection of appealing songs, I have a few favorites that I tend to play over and over:

  • “Back in the Fire” (Brit Taylor, Pat McLaughlin, Dan Auerbach)
  • “Real Me” (Brit Taylor, Pat McLaughlin, Dan Auerbach)
  • “Waking Up Ain’t Easy” (Brit Taylor, Dave Brainard)
  • “Broken Heart Breaks” (Brit Taylor, Joe Allen, Dan Auerbach)
  • “Raggedy Heart” (Brit Taylor, Roger Cook, Dan Auerbach)

Recently, I talked with Brit. I suppose I could have asked her something like “Why is your voice so soothing?” or “How do you sing every song just to me alone, when we’ve never even met?” but that would give it away—how I think of hers as just about the only career I’m looking forward to following in country music these days. Here is some of that conversation…

GV: As you might have guessed, I haven’t had many opportunities to discuss what’s new in the music scene with very many artists this past year. Frankly, I’ve been convincing myself that I can actually enjoy living a life that doesn’t involve going to hear live music so much that I was beginning to wonder if I would ever even want to go to a club or concert again… But then I heard your new album, and I thought Yes, I do. I miss live music! And I especially like discovering new artists. As soon as I heard your voice I was hooked. Your songs are a great reminder of why we all love country music in the first place. So thank you!

BT: Aww, thank you so much.

GV: So we’ll start with a fun question: What was the first record or CD that you ever bought?

BT: It was probably Patty Loveless or Trisha Yearwood. I can envision myself opening up Trisha Yearwood’s album and getting the liner notes out. I used to love looking at all the lyrics and trying to learn all the songs.

GV: What was the first concert you went to?

BT: I think it was George Jones, or Ralph Stanley.

GV: Who’d you go with?

BT: My Papaw (or Grandfather, depending on where you’re from) introduced me to bluegrass music. My parents were into Fleetwood Mac, ‘80s rock. My dad and I both loved oldies—Sam Cooke, Dion… Nobody at my house really listened to country music, but my Papaw listened to a lot of bluegrass. At that time, a lot of those bluegrass artists were crossing over into country, like Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, so I got turned on to country music through that avenue and just fell in love with it.

GV: And now you’re living it! So what does it feel like for you at this very moment in your career?

BT: You know, the world’s crazy but I am just trucking along and doing the best I can. I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude and appreciation, and excitement for what lies ahead.

GV: How are you dealing with the limited performing opportunities these days, especially when you are letting country music fans know about your new album?

BT: Besides taking time to appreciate how far I’ve come, I’m focusing on the things that I can do—which is writing and thinking about where I want to go next with the music.

[A few words here about Brit Taylor’s silky vocals. She’s been blessed with a voice that is as flexible as it is solid, as alluring as it is trustworthy. She is brave enough to use it with restraint at just the right moments, allowing the listener to make the choice to lean in. When Brit Taylor sings, it is a conversation with your ears (and your heart). Although she is so heartfelt in her delivery that she almost redefines the sound of country heartache, there are seemingly recognizable influences. To try to describe her sound is a bit like relating the experience of enjoying a classic wine. It’s satisfying on all of the expected levels, but what really impresses is the variety conveyed—sometimes it’s a big, buttery voice with hints of Ronstadt, other times it’s a cool, crisp take with shades of Gentry. Even when it is reminiscent for a moment of Cline, the smoldering emotion is so self-protected that Taylor becomes nothing but an original. Is is the song that dresses her emotions, or is it her emotions that makes the song so clearly something of a mystery? This is a question that is only asked of a true artist.]

GV: When was it clear that music was going to be your life? Did you know at an early age?

BT: I don’t remember a time of not knowing it. It just always was. I never contemplated it at all.

GV: Can you recall the first time you performed?

BT: I don’t know if I remember it, or if I just remember people talking about it. It was at my grade school, and I’m pretty sure my mom, who was the teacher, just gave me a microphone and I sang my “ABCs.”

GV: So, you started out singing one of the classics… How would you describe your sound these days?

BT: I think it’s just a mixture of all the things that I love. It’s really country, but with some of that oldies influence in there, and some bluegrass in there.

GV: Has that been a challenge in any way?

BT: It seems like people don’t always know where to put it, as far as playlists go, but I’m kind of excited about that.

GV: Where do you see yourself going, musically, in the future?

BT: I think it’s going to be a progression of what I’ve already done. I don’t want to go in any completely new direction… nor do I want to recreate what I’ve already done. I see myself just working on progressing that sound forward into something cool and new.

GV: Once you can get back to performing live, is there a dream venue for you? Any place you’ve always dreamed of playing?

BT: I hope that I get to play The Opry, and I hope that I get to play The Ryman. Those are the two big ones, and of course Red Rocks is a big one too.

GV: Suddenly the future sounds better than ever. How have you stayed motivated, given the slow-down of 2020?

BT: I keep my nose in self-help books and motivation books. I read a couple of pages every morning. It’s kind of my morning ritual to make my coffee, sit on the front porch, and read a few pages from an inspiring book.

GV: And in real life, what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from someone?

BT: Just to be authentic, and to not really worry about the world outside of me.

GV: Who gave you that advice?

BT: Dan Auerbach, and my producer—in not so many words—encouraged me to be different… to be myself.

GV: Hence the album title, Real Me… Before this conversation ends, I just want to ask about your collaboration with singer/songwriter/bassist-extraordinaire Adam Chaffins…

(a momentary silence)

(GV cont’d.): … any plans to do an outright duet with him anytime soon?

(the sound of a blush, if a blush had a sound)

BT: There’s some talk of it. I hope so in the future.

GV: The reason I’m asking is that I immediately picked up a strong chemistry between the two of you. Vocally, you’re both a really good match. There’s a connection there that’s pure, uncomplicated, and refreshingly right.

BT: Thank you. I think we are too.

Above: To enjoy Brit’s live-streamed Valentine’s Day concert with Adam Chaffins, click on the video below.

SPOILER ALERT: HAPPY ENDING AHEAD! (for Adam, for Brit… and, frankly, for country music!)

To keep up with Britt Taylor, visit her official website.

And don’t forget to “like” her on Facebook

…and follow her on Twitter

… and on YouTube, of course.

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