‘Share It’ nearly a one-man show
> But Taylor has a little help from friends on new CD
Special to The Commercial Appeal
One of the most pleasant surprises of Craig Brewer’s Web/television series “$5 Cover” was local musician Paul Taylor’s turn as a rare nice-guy drummer who wins the heart of “Amy,” played by Taylor’s real-life girlfriend and bandmate Amy LaVere.
In the seventh episode of the MTV series, aptly titled “The Multi-Instrumentalist,” Taylor woos LaVere by composing a complete song for her on the fly, playing and layering all the instruments himself.
“I figured maybe it would be a good opportunity to expose some people to the washtub bass and kalimba and lap steel, so I purposefully chose instruments to loop that would be a little atypical,” says Taylor of the scene, which he says was a welcome break from the parts where he was required to “act.” “It’s a very simple piece of music, kind of like one-thousandth of what you can do with that equipment.”
For a more complete vision of what Taylor — a Memphis music scene veteran since he emerged as a teenage bass guitar phenom in the early 1990s — can do with samples, loops, and a roomful of instruments, see Share It, his sophomore CD which he will launch with a show Saturday night at the Hi-Tone. The disc, which in keeping with the DIY spirit of the recordings, features hand-drawn, childlike artwork from Taylor, is the debut of his new performing name, Paul “Snowflake” Taylor. The moniker comes from a nickname bestowed upon him by producer Jim Dickinson.
“I decided to release records under that name because my first record got lost in the shuffle,” says Taylor of his new persona. “There’s a smooth jazz saxophonist named Paul Taylor, and an Australian didgeridoo-ist named Paul Taylor, and all these other people. So ‘Snowflake’ is really just for press and Google. Please don’t start calling me that.”
More than a year in the making, Share It is in many ways an extension of the “$5 Cover” scene, with Taylor recording the songs piece by piece, brick by brick, over a span of months.
“Half the tracks on the record are experiments with writing in the studio, like from the drums up or the keyboard parts up,” says Taylor of the project, the bulk of which came out of an intensive three week period he spent holed up in Jimbo Mathus’ Delta Recording Service in Como, Miss. “It was cool to do it that way because a lot of times, if I write a song in a traditional fashion on guitar, then what I end up playing on drums is a much more song-y part. Which is cool. I love that, but it was cool to start with a much more funky drum part and then have to write lyrics over that.”
The approach has resulted in a dizzyingly eclectic collection — with touches of indie pop, bossa nova, funk, and John Lennon-style rock balladry —that is more assured and carefully constructed than Taylor’s self-admittedly rushed 2006 debut, Open Closed.
For all Taylor’s bravura musicianship, however, Share It is not completely a one-man show. He traveled to California to record overdubs with his friends Andrew McLean on tabla and Bob Furgo on violin. Taylor, whose main gig these days is drumming behind LaVere in her band the Tramps, also gets help from her and the band’s guitarist, his childhood friend Steve Selvidge.
“Paul pretty much did everything on the CD,” says Selvidge. “I played a bit of guitar on one song. Mainly I just brought a bunch of gear that I knew he’d enjoy playing with/through and we just hung out for a day, which is never a bad thing. My impression of the music was the same as it was when I first heard him play around 1986 or so. I was impressed.”
Selvidge will also open Saturday’s show with a short acoustic set, and guitarist Dave Cousar will play the “after-party” following Taylor’s performance.
There is even an out-of-time assist from Taylor’s dad, noted local guitarist Pat Taylor, whose ’70s band Edgewood gets a prog rock remix treatment on the disc’s “bonus track,” “We Both Stand To Lose.”
Paul Taylor celebrates his sophomore effort with a CD release party Saturday night at the Hi-Tone.