Having strummed his guitar and sang his heart out for the past 10 years, Taylor Locke is no stranger to the stage, since he played as lead guitarist and singer in Rooney and in the Roughs. With his new band, Locke steps back onto the LA music scene with “Time Stands Still” — his first solo album. Still inspired by the British Invasion, Locke’s album isn’t a crazy or ambitious departure from his roots, but he does tiptoe into more original material. Hidden among the pleasant enough songs, there are a few gems that resonate an interesting personality you just want to get to know.
“Burbank Woman” is a soft opener that echoes a distant electric guitar and sad memories, yet at times strengthens into a boring beat that continues into “The Game.” While the slow start is not distracting, both beginning songs seem more appropriate muffled in the background as one rides in a Chevy down some dusty freeway along a prairie. Then the album’s mood shifts into silly delight with a personal favorite: “Running Away From Love.” No matter the destination, the poppy vibe of chirpy tambourine and uplifting drums urge anyone to simply get off their feet. Ultimately, the skillful overlapping of the folkish singing maintains the fast-paced tone and is never a bore. Locke’s voice guides listeners in a hopeful direction as he sings “see it in the distant / colors of the breaking dawn / every new horizon / leads me on and on and on.”
The loosey “So Long” and the gritty “Call Me Kuchu” are reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Come Together,” yet are not mere copies of the British band. Piercing listeners’ ears with a high keyboard note leads the way for the electric guitar and Locke’s unusually harsh tone to declare: “We all want equality / you must heed the call.” As the drum marches on, Locke repeatedly sings out, “Kuchu,” which lyrically and musically unites the song and its call for action. Possibly named after a documentary depicting the predicaments of Uganda’s LGBTQ community, “Call Me Kuchu” is a political anthem to act just as how “Come Together” is inspired by Timothy Leary’s imprisonment.
Special attention should be paid toward the album’s titular song for its excellence in tear-dripping melancholy achieved in its instrumental arrangement and evocative lyrics. Naked of his band’s typical rock instruments, the bare sounds of the acoustic guitar are adorned with a simple yet fragile texture. The short drops of the xylophone sound more as pings of sorrow, which beautifully hollows the song of any happiness. Singing rather nostalgically, Locke carries on by accepting, “I had enough / of the push and shove / every night fighting the fight / that can’t be won.” Despite the acceptance, “Time Stands Still” ends on a somber note with the xylophone’s bubbling sadness, all soft and small, trailing on after the last line: “When you feel too tired to cry anymore.”
Though sticking a bit too close to his roots and influences for a debut solo album, Locke’s new album is worth more than one listen. His songs offer not only insight into himself, but the great potential he has for his next work.
Rating: 3.5 stars