When Angel Taylor wrote the songs that would become Love Travels, she had absolutely no idea just how far those travels would take her – and her journey has only just begun.
By the time her debut album hit stores in September 2009, Taylor had already spent most of her year on the road, beginning the transformation from wide-eyed, idealistic girl barely removed from her teenage years and dramas, to a crowd-honored, road-tested and highly-coveted touring artist.
And with her wide-eyed charm and idealist’s enthusiasm intact, it’s a role that suits Angel Taylor well.
Months before lead single “Like You Do” would start its ascent to the top of Adult Top 40 radio playlists, iTunes named Taylor’s Love Travels the Best Pop Album of 2009, with the Associate Press echoing the accolades, calling the release “one of the top debuts of the year.” As for the single itself, People magazine hailed “Like You Do” as a “slice of folk-pop heaven,” and Billboard magazine cited the track for its “breezy, sentimental pop” and “sassier tone.”
On an album lush with songs that are ripe with sentimentality, “Like You Do” is Taylor at her blissful pop best, her sassy vocals dancing atop infectious melodies that swing from sweet to sweeter, and back again. “It’s such a happy, bubbly song, it’s one of my favorites to play live,” says the 22-year-old Taylor of the track, which has become a fixture in the Top 5 of VH1’s Top 20 Video Countdown, and was the centerpiece of Taylor’s network television debut, when she performed the song live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “Even though I’ve been playing it nearly every day for over a year, it never gets old… It’s actually more exciting now and makes me even happier, hearing crowds sing along with it.”
Crowds have been good to Taylor, whose road resume reads like a who’s who of singer-songwriter successes, having traveled the country with acts including Grammy Award winner Adele, Gavin Degraw, Ingrid Michaelson and Mat Kearny, Five For Fighting, Brett Dennen, Brandi Carlile and Kate Voegele. While life on the road has been filled with rewards, it’s also had its challenges for Angel, the youngest of five girls raised under the roof of a single mother. “I come from a really close family, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were times I wished I had my mom to talk to, instead of someone in the van on the way to the next city,” she says with a laugh, “but then, when I’m home, it’s never long before I’m itching to be on the road again! When I’m out there playing every night, it’s a lot like being able to sing my diary… it’s like the memories are with me, and I get to share them with the crowds - it’s a win-win!”
The summer of 2010 offers Angel – a VH1 “You Oughta Know” Artist On The Rise – her biggest trek to date, a North American amphitheater tour with Canadian pop superstars the Barenaked Ladies, where she’ll share the support duties with American Idol winner Kris Allen. “It’s a humbling experience opening for anybody, and it’s a definitely a challenge,” she says, “but every tour I’ve done and every show I’ve played has built up to this, and I’m ready for it. I’ve really learned more about myself on the road, and am really learning more and more about how to connect with and move people through my music – that’s what I really hope to accomplish every time I go out there, and that’s my main goal.”
The connections abound on Love Travels, where Angel peels apart the fairy tale of falling in love and climbs inside, wondering why it can’t be her and rationalizing when it might be. She writes with a disarming charm and poetic grace that ambles along like a carefree summer day, the results blanketing us with warmth and leaving us yearning for more. Like John Mayer – her favorite musician, and now labelmate on Aware Records / Columbia – Taylor’s lyrics pack a wisdom that defies her years, finding the simplest, most accessible way to describe life’s most confusing emotions.
How has the last year on the road affected her interpretation of songs that were primarily written as a teenager? According to Angel, it only makes them resonate that much stronger. “I sing the songs differently, but in a really good way – there’s more of a passion behind the words because of where I’ve been, and where I am currently. There have been changes, and I guess I can’t really hide it well onstage – but I also think it’s good, because people can notice that there’s something different. I write about my life, so in experiencing life, I’m maturing and realizing that everything isn’t perfect, and life doesn’t work out so glam, pretty and princess-like at the end of the day.”
From that maturity and realization comes a newfound sense of artistic expression. While a song like “Chai Tea Latte” will always hold a special place in Taylor’s heart – “it’s like my baby belt, it’s where I started, and it’s the birth of me and the way I was feeling when I first started playing honestly and seriously” – she’s finding her greatest growth in performing songs that offered her more of a challenge early on. “‘Not Even Human’ is really a depressing, hard song to sing, but I think that’s why I enjoy it so much now. It’s hard for me to get onstage and be that vulnerable, but at the same time, I think it’s important for people to hear songs like that.”
It’s also important for people to realize that through the whirlwind of releasing her debut album and crisscrossing America too many times to remember, Angel Taylor still holds tightly to the girl she was before. But there is one thing that has changed – “I had never been on an airplane before this started, and I was terrified of flying,” she recalls. “Now I fly at least four times a month!”
Love Travels, and Angel Taylor is taking us along for the ride...
– Paul Gargano, 07.10