After years of fabulous cover song collections and holiday specials, popular YouTube violinist Taylor Davis is releasing a solo album of all-original music! We’ve seen Davis‘ skill in composing arrangements for her covers and medleys, so it’s time to to see what she can do with completely free reins. Her self-titled solo album is released on March 19th, 2015.
The album starts out with the slow yet powerful “Spellbound,” a song that feels very emotional in its dynamics. Davis makes good use of back-and-forth motions on the violin in this and I particularly like the way it builds up after the 03:00 mark, fading out just as sweetly as it starts. Next up is “Reflections,” which starts gently, but picks up a bit with the acoustic hints of guitar. The backing in this is somewhat more minimalistic, allowing the violin to drive the song and not the other way around. It really hits its stride and power around the 02:00 mark though and the chimes are used to a nice effect.
“Awakening” has some electronic sounds and really makes full use of the violin’s range, starting on the low end and working its way upward quickly. I feel like the violin line in this song is almost lyrical, as though there is a story of some sort being told. The “chorus” then that kicks in after 01:15 is particularly strong and I just love the way it builds up. “Mystic Forest” promises much in its name, yet I immediately like the backing music (particularly the percussion). I also like that, at this point in the album, this song is sticking to the deeper end of the violin’s range, at least in the beginning. There’s some nice violin harmonizing toward the end and the dramatic drums are really cool!
“Atonement” is a great, hard-hitting song that sounds at times like a theme for a villain or certain dangerous area and in other moments, an epic climax in an action/adventure film. This song is less sweet and mysterious and more epic and thrilling, which is a nice switch-up at this point. The song flows so smoothly into “Nebulous” that you might not notice the change right away, though they don’t have particularly similar feelings as a whole. “Nebulous” is a bit more of an electronic song, though again I like the deeper notes that the violin has in the beginning; as always though, Davis is using the full range of the violin. There is a lot of booming power in the backing instruments, giving this song a push whenever it needs it.
“Breakthrough” starts out with a sound type that makes me think it could be the theme for a video game, though it switches into something that somehow, and I can’t say exactly why, reminds me of ’80s-’90s rock music before returning to its theme-song sound. “Hidden Falls” is a gentle, slower song, right where it should be at track eight, just over halfway through the album. I’m sure I’ve said this in other reviews, but I do appreciate the clarity and strength in Davis‘ vibrato. This song could be a theme song for a gentle character from a village in the woods – human or mythical.
“Halo of Light” steps it back up with an almost militaristic intro, but ends up being another gentle, slower song. As opposed to the game soundtrack-y sound some of her songs have, this definitely feels like we’re nearing the end of a movie score, as it rises to a really fantastic climax and the backing “vocals” remind me of a lot of soundtrack music. This gave off a hint of the vibe I get from The Lion King when the pridelands are in bloom again.
In the beginning, “A New Journey” feels like just that – the beginning of an adventure. Think The Shire right before Bilbo or Frodo set out on their adventures. There is the gentle, peaceful sound, but also a hint of something lurking in the shadows. Eventually you reach a part that sounds like someone’s resolution that they will do what needs to be done and then, as the song ends, it builds up to that person setting out on their journey. This is a really neat piece.
“Morning Star” begins to draw the album toward its close. This song could be a meadow at dawn, or a love song in a romance movie. It’s tranquility is peaceful and soothing. Quite conversely, “Dawn of Hope” is the high-energy song you want to go out on to leave people wanting more. There’s a hint of country-style fiddle in this at times, which I love, and I had no idea you could mix that sound with electronic styles and get this good of an effect. This song feels like a positive conclusion to an overall very nice album.
Instrumentals are notoriously difficult to comment on, but it’s fun to listen to these sorts of songs and wonder if my take on them is at all like whatever inspired them when they were written, or if other people got completely different vibes from them. Overall, “Taylor Davis” is a great album and easy to listen to, both actively and passively, and there’s not a single stanky-sounding song on it. If you’re a fan of original violin music, I definitely recommend this and can’t wait for its successor in 2016.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Mystic Forest
- Hidden Falls
- Halo of Light
- A New Journey
- Morning Star
- Dawn of Hope
Taylor Davis – violin