Taylor Knox’s 2015 debut EP, Lines, marked the arrival of a rare breed of singer/songwriter, one whose instincts are naturally attuned to the power pop principles of crunchy guitars, smooth harmonies and tales of teenage heartache.
Knox has grown up since then, and channeled the wonder of this new phase of life into his first—and aptly titled—full-length album, LOVE. Comprised of 11 tracks that would find good company on any playlist containing Big Star, Teenage Fanclub and Tame Impala, LOVE exemplifies Knox’s direct and utterly irresistible approach.
Although he’s honed his sound primarily on his own until now, Knox felt it was the right time to approach his old friend Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) about producing. Jurvanen, in tandem with co-producer Josh Korody and the mixing team of Gus Van Go and Werner F, added many new facets to Knox’s new material, without erasing an iota of its essence. That would have been nearly impossible anyway, since the album is rooted in Knox’s current personal and creative outlook.
Even the most jaded among us would be hard-pressed not to succumb to the wide-eyed innocence of standout tracks “Love Love Love,” “The Sun,” and “Running Into Love,” all of which feature guest vocals by Molly Rankin of Alvvays. Jurvanen contributes some of his trademark guitar stylings as well, but as on the EP, Knox handles most of the instrumentation himself. He saw the overall process of constructing LOVE as a challenge to capture his musical vision in its purest form, narrowing down the album’s final 11 tracks from 200 songs he had on hand.
“I wanted to make a record where it felt as if every song was essential to the end result,” he says. “For example, a song like ‘The Stars’ has a certain good feeling right off the first drum hit. I wrote it walking around my old neighbourhood in Toronto where I lived when I first moved to the city. It was nighttime and I was feeling very hopeful and nostalgic. I think I was able to convey that feeling in three minutes.”
While so much of LOVE sounds as effortless as Knox describes, it’s the direct result of the wealth of experience he’s gained over the past decade through playing with a host of Canada’s most acclaimed artists, including Owen Pallett, Rich Aucoin, Luke Doucet, Hayden, Jason Collett, and Alvvays. “The common thread with all of them is to never settle for second best,” Knox says. “I’ve also learned self-acceptance through them and other artists I’ve been listening to a lot lately, like Prince, Kendrick Lamar, Solange and The Stooges. What it comes down to is having confidence without being afraid to be vulnerable at the same time. I think that’s definitely noticeable on this record.”
Indeed, Taylor Knox’s LOVE is a testament to the highest ideals of rock and roll songwriting. You will fall for it—hard—and in return, it will always be there to give you exactly what you need.