Whether you are a Los Angeles native, a momentary visitor or an out of town transplant, Friday nights on Hollywood Blvd are a strange beast. It’s one of LA’s many boulevards but this one specializes in dreams (broken and fulfilled), kitschy novelty stores, Scientology centers, the best Captain Jack Sparrows money can buy, venues, heavy traffic and eateries with overly harsh lighting…like the one I met Taylor John Williams in. Seriously harsh. Yikes.
By the way, if you ever have the chance to chat with Taylor, feel free to NOT do two things: play any bro-Country within earshot and ask about his time as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice.
This isn’t said to be rude or dismissive; trust that he is acutely aware of and understands the curiosity, as well as the opportunities and experiences that the talent reality show has afforded him due to appearing during its seventh season in 2014. But with respect to The Voice, two points succinctly summarize how Taylor feels and why:
“I don’t get many interesting questions about it. It’s always the same. What’s so and so like? Are people nice? I don’t ever really get any questions that give me pause.”
“It’s so irrelevant to me at this point.”
After all, it is now 2017. At some point, it’s time to move on as lingering too long in the rearview mirror rarely serves a greater purpose. Unless you need to write a song, of course, because then it can serve as inspiration.
At a lanky 6’4”, Taylor is as hard to miss as he is pleasant to behold. The 26-year-old Eugene, OR native is a picture of millennial youth and young manhood with smaller-than-LA-town charm getting his career bearings after having officially made the move to LA in 2016. Tonight was night #2 of his month-long April residency at one of LA’s most venerable venues: Hotel Café. It’s a place that is notorious for hosting high quality and often legendary artists of all genres, but specializes in showcasing music of a more intimate and personal nature like the bar stool sitting, guitar wielding singer/songwriter. Taylor’s gig fits that mold, but is additionally touched with a richly warm-blooded, personal and soulful folk approach to the art of musical storytelling. His lyrical game is strong: See his second EP, Hiraeth, for further.
After the Hotel Café show, one particular adjective pushed itself forward: revelatory. The room was a warm space well-suited for Taylor’s beautifully expressive voice, the playful charm of his off-the-cuff humor and his penchant for peeling back the tender layers of his songs before launching into them – and there is a lot going on in those songs. Plus, he didn’t have to work very long or hard before the gift of a whisky and Coke found its way into his hand onstage: In the life of a musician, that is a valuable skill.
So, yes, it was all a revelation: the conversation, the performance, the man. From harsh lighting on the boulevard to a session of musical show-and-tell (as many things discussed earlier in the eve seemed to be threads of thought in his songs), this was getting in on the ground floor of witnessing Taylor John Williams on his personal road of discovery, watching “a new band figure themselves out on stage” and an artist in the act of “becoming.” Becoming something more than a guy from Oregon, more than a Los Angeles dreamer and certainly more than a former contestant on a reality show. - Trina N. Greene (High Voltage Magazine)