“I have deep roots that are tested by the storms, but this tree never falls.”
I WANT to help other people process what’s going on in their lives through creativity and self-expression. My primary form of self-expression is through music, in the form of Indie Folk Pop. Hearing someone else process their emotions and sharing their journey is a remarkably therapeutic action. I want to feel these emotions and process them through creativity, rather than letting them sit bottled up inside. And I want to facilitate that catharsis in others. I will continuously try new creative pursuits and share the journey.
Over the past few years, emerging NYC-based singer/songwriter Taylor Bradshaw has had an opportunity to discover his true voice as an artist and embark on a major stylistic shift from an eclectic fusion of edgy, raw alt and garage rock with folk and punk sensibilities (as his music was described in an early bio) to a gentler, more introspective and soulful brand of indie folk-pop.
Releasing his admittedly “all over the place” debut album Twine in February 2020, he squeezed in a bunch of high-profile DIY house parties and club shows (including a big release party at Littlefield in Brooklyn) with some high energy full band rocking. At every gig he played, he realized that despite the high intensity of his show overall, the two tunes that seemed to resonate most with his audiences (mostly the folks in the back of the room, he laughs) were the softer acoustic ballads “Twine” and especially “Laura,” which currently has more than 150,000 streams on Spotify. He started feeling that this vibe best reflected his truest, most authentic voice as an artist. Since then, he has focused his writing sessions on the indie folk style that includes a lot of beautiful atmospheric touches, thoughtful and heartfelt storytelling and, when the emotion calls for it, his stunning falsetto.
Bradshaw’s instincts regarding his new style were confirmed with a series of post-lockdown shows at an underground speakeasy in NYC, where he presented some of the acoustic songs he had been developing in a low pressure environment of encouraging supporters. “People love to rock out and party for sure,” he says, “but what really captures them is singing a song with a story they can relate to.” His songwriting pace accelerated this past winter when he gathered his recording equipment and hightailed it to the Catskills upstate for a dedicated creative retreat.
Fully immersed in the natural surroundings with no outside distractions, he didn’t quite meet his goal of writing a song a day, but he sparked a dynamic wave of great tunes that continued in the months after he returned to his digs in Harlem. One of the songs he wrote up in the woods, “The Final Night,” is sure to make the final tracking on his currently in the works followup album. Bradshaw, who self-produced Twine, is working with an outside producer for the first time, traveling up every few weeks to Bethel Woods, NY (home of the Woodstock Festival) to work with Julian Giaimo, whose specialty is indie singer/songwriter and bluegrass artists. Bradshaw appreciated his “acoustic mind and songwriter vibe” and the way he is helping the singer hone his craft, guide the recording process and pick the best songs for the project.
Bradshaw has whittled the possibilities for the album down to 20 songs from countless more and is engaging with his most engaged fans via social media, messaging and texting for input into the creative process. He counts his personal influences as everyone from Johnny Cash and Simon and Garfunkel to contemporary alt country greats Tyler Childers and Zach Brian and singer/songwriters Keaton Henson and Frank Turner. But he always asks his fans who they are listening to and enjoys being turned on to new artists all the time.
“I want to help other people process what’s going on in their lives through creativity and self-expression,” Bradshaw says. “Hearing someone else process their emotions and sharing their journey is a remarkably therapeutic action. I want to feel these emotions and process them through creativity, rather than letting them sit bottled up inside. And I want to facilitate that catharsis in others. I will continuously try new creative pursuits and share the journey. Everything can be learned, and I want my audience to feel that they too can participate. I’m excited that I am finally focusing on my own authentic musical style. My first album was fun to make, but now I’m really focused on what feels right for me – which offers me a greater opportunity for musical storytelling that connects with people.”
Hailing from a port town on Long Island, Taylor Bradshaw grew up learning about the contrasting realities of nature, its natural beauty offset by the devastating forces of hurricanes and flash storms. Though he would swim for a mile from one beach to another, his greatest fear is of dark, open water at night – a fear instilled in a child’s mind from a flash storm that struck while on a night kayak ride with his parents as a toddler. It is a fear he frequently exposes himself to out of willpower in the form of night swims. These natural experiences shaped him and seep into the lyrical content of his songwriting.
In high school, Bradshaw joined some alt rock bands, marking his foray into songwriting and singing as a frontman. They played rock venues and basement parties all over Long Island, blood often soaking his guitar by the end of a performance. He would often take the train out to New York City to see concerts and was introduced to its thriving punk scene and mosh pits. After the concerts, Bradshaw and friends would spend the night in Union Square, drinking and making new friends with the locals. He later moved to Harlem to study music and audio tech in the Sonic Arts Program at the City College of New York, spending his days studying, writing songs and composing classical music. At night, when the school studios emptied, he would bring in bands to record and produce, working his way through college as a music producer.
Bradshaw then became involved in the DIY music scene in NYC, performing his acoustic songs at frequent open mics and underground shows of original music, slam poetry, and nude figure drawing. These songs led to him forming a band for his solo work and culminated in his debut album Twine in 2020.
One of the greatest reasons Taylor Bradshaw began focusing on developing his acoustic based artistry is the success, both in streaming numbers and audience response to his song “Laura,” a gentle, stripped-down romantic ballad with trippy, swirling atmospheres about the challenges of being in love with someone from a great distance. It offers a hypnotic showcase for his intimate and sometimes ethereal vocals and otherworldly falsetto. While some of the rhythms are more up-tempo, the overall vibe of his current material, vocally and instrumentation/production wise, is in the vein of “Laura.”
While Bradshaw’s sophomore album is currently a work in progress and the final set list is still TBD, there are a few songs which are good bets once they’re in their final produced form. He wrote the soulful, seductive and easy rolling “Unkind” early in the pandemic. Despite its overall soft-spoken vibe, it perfectly captures his reality that songwriting comes from a place of friction where the tension of a relationship needs to be sorted out. Featuring some of his most impactful lyrics ever, it offers intense imagery of the destruction of a relationship and asks a question we can all relate to: Once we split will we ever speak again?
The singer introduces “The Final Night” with plucky guitar and a whistle, setting the listener up for an upbeat take on the end of a relationship where he and his significant other are covering their real feelings and pretending they won’t be kissing goodbye. It’s a song that speaks to the mindset of lingering feelings that may stir and prompt those who broke up to potentially connect again. It’s like the breakup is all make believe. Driven by a whispery, intimate vocal (and later, his glorious falsetto) and hypnotic, plucky circular guitar riff, “The Man I’d Rather Be” is all about misfires in communication, wondering if she’s talking to him or through him or to someone else. Most lapses in communication, the singer believes, is based on our insecurities and traumas. Addressing these frictions in relationships allow both sides to take a step towards truly understanding each other. The chorus is endlessly intriguing: “Are you talking to me/Or straight through me/Or to someone else? Your father, Or your mother, Or your boyfriend, Or the man I’d rather be?”
Another gem worthy of final consideration is the edgier acoustic jam “Firefly,” which finds Bradshaw reflecting on childhood summers where he learned the secrets of successfully catching fireflies and applying those metaphorically to human beings trying to catch and hold onto those we love. If you give them a proper place to land, they will stay with you. Also on the list is the spirited, tempo shifting “I’ll Do The Same,” another song about moving on and hoping the two lovers won’t forget each other or rewrite history – and instead will choose to let their experience live on as the pretty thing they had.
“Taylor Bradshaw blissfully used his down time to take stock of his developing artistry, listening and responding to an inner creative voice that told him that the great audience responses to his acoustic ballads – even in an otherwise rockin’ show – were wisely pointing him in an inspiring new direction. While his debut album Twine was a solid, multi-faceted showcase for an artist finding his way, Bradshaw’s new, all acoustic material reflects the kind of focus, maturity, storytelling and intimate, ethereal vocal sparkle that is bound to set him on a more powerful and fulfilling trajectory as an indie folk artist in the years to come. Besides offering him the opportunity to share his amazing lyrics and the range of his voice, the songs he ultimately has on his sophomore album will be in part chosen by the fans that love him best. This shows that he’s an artist that isn’t just there to entertain his audience but develop a long-lasting relationship with them. It will be exciting to see the impact of Bradshaw’s beautiful new vibe in the coming years.”
– Jonathan Widran
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