Taylor Upsahl’s Precocious Debut Album


I’ve got to admit that I never thought in a million years that I would recommend an album that was recorded by a fourteen year old singer/songwriter. It never even crossed my mind that I would even be interested in what a girl that age could say or play without thinking they had so much more territory to cross, so much more life to do, so much more to realize and maybe find their course of talent. This was until I heard the debut album by Taylor Upsahl.  I actually didn’t realize her youth until reading the description on CDBaby, because her brilliance, her precocious ambiguity shines well beyond her years. In fact I can’t even understand where she comes up with this material in any capacity, because these songs speak to me and I imagine they will speak to everyone who has ever loved, ever lived, ever existed far longer than Taylor has. Right from the start with “The Yes Knows”, a stark piano ballad, the wisdom contained within, at every verse, is timeless and I suppose it comes down to that old saying, “Out of the mouths of babes…” Still she seems well beyond her years in the likes of “11:11″ with the notions of wishful thinking within a failing relationship, which is pretty astounding in itself. I know I keep mentioning her youth, but it is out of wonder and amazement that she seems to know more in her mid-teens than most of us understand by mid-life–if I had been unaware of her, and I didn’t know her father, I would have bet she was 25, seeking answers after wandering through college with a healthy cynicism and an open heart. Check out “Sinking Ships”, another solo piano number, if you have any doubts on this perspective.

“I.O.U” shows yet more precocious vulnerability, but one of sweetness, innocence an heartbreak. “I am stuck with the memory of how things used to be,” she sings and it seems like something any of us might to say of a lost love or a love gone wrong. Here it is her plaintive voice full of texture, with only acoustic guitar, which only underscores the loss involved in the song. It makes me wonder if anything changes after adolescence at all or if we just don’t speak the poetry of the way life affects us after a while. The minimalist arrangement on “Stuck In The Middle” only serves her voice and story further, here her vocal performance is heartwrenchingly beautiful in layers upon layers, the way thought swirl around your mind. In respect to the album, I love how it switches from piano to guitar and back again and with “Eyes Still Dry” it’s back to guitar with a beautiful ballad. “Mistakes” then returns to piano, and honestly her piano numbers have a bit of harrowing tension beneath them, much to the betterment I must add. Again, her lyrical wisdom is beyond par as it is in all songs, but here especially–I know some artists two to three times her age who are neither this confessional, honest or accurate in respect to their portrayal of life. Back on guitar, “Blue Skies” really shows off her voice in spades, it’s an unusual arrangement and she completely owns it and makes it work. Seriously one of my favorite tracks on the album for style points alone. The finale is the haunting piano number “Disturbance” with layers of her vocals and lyrical metaphors thrown everywhere it’s deep and…well…slightly disturbing in both its beauty and wisdom. A simply stark and beautiful end to a brilliant debut album.

First of all, this is an album of pure beauty, her voice, her music is flawless and for lovers of Feist, Regina Spector, Tori Amos, or Ellie Goulding this is your jackpot.  Secondly, these are simply great songs regardless of age or perception. I don’t know what to make of this, because it is as if she has lived many lives before the short time during this one. Her insight, perception and wisdom is well beyond her years . It is also something that speaks volumes to the masses beyond explanation—her music is universal. Perhaps it is imaginary, perhaps it is real, but the truth is plain and simple: Taylor Upsahl is the most talented up and coming talent in the valley and she’s not even sixteen and evokes more imagery, imagination and soulful realizations than most ever realize in their entire lifetime.  Her lyrics, her music, her talent, are unwieldy. I simply cannot wait to hear more.

I will finally have a chance to see Taylor Upsahl perform live this weekend when TMI on KWSS Presents the 3rd Annual Phochella Music Fest this Saturday, April 19th at The Sail Inn. This is one performance I can’t wait to catch and I was beyond excited to see that she was on the lineup. Be sure to witness her set at the Acoustic Stage from 10:35-11pm, this young lady is headlining that stage and deservedly so.

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