Published: September, 2008, West Coast Performer Magazine

Steve Taylor "Has the Size of the Road Got the Better of You"
Engineered by Aaron Prellwitz, Jay Pellicci, Mike Wali, Steven Vasiliou, Chema Salinas, Cochrane McMillan, James Allan, Charlie Barr, Ben Yonas and Oscar Yonas | Mixed by Jay Pellicci, Aaron Prellwitz and Ben Yonas | Mastered by Ben Yonas at Yonas Media West | Tracks recorded and mixed at Tiny Telephone, Soundwave Studios, Yonas Media West, J St Recorders and The Hangar

By Michael Fortes

One look at the front cover of Steve Taylor’s Has the Size of the Road Got the Better of You? can conjure images of colorfully dressed hippies tripping out to lush, pastoral sounds inspired by The Zombies and pre-disco Bee Gees records of the late 1960s. In fact, Taylor’s music is decidedly more in line with the aesthetics of ‘70s pop and soul.

Without a hint of irony in his sweet falsetto vocal delivery, the album was obviously a labor of love, with a list of engineers longer than its tracklist. It’s a finely executed exercise in sonic nostalgia that only falters in the first two songs: “Reality” lopes along without a clearly arranged chorus, giving the impression that it’s either unfinished or just too repetitive to warrant repeated listens. “Felicity” goes a little overboard with its synth string bed and an awkward opening line (“Felicity, why must you treat me with duplicity?”) coming off just short of early Hall & Oates blue-eyed soul.

“Nothing Left,” however, gets the soul vibe right – the organ in the song is mixed just high enough so as not to overpower the proceedings, and it plays like a lost classic waiting to be discovered.

“Mystery” goes the Nick Drake route. Its hushed vocals and gentle finger-picked guitar set the tone for a sorrowful, lonely lyric with a touch of hope and a tinge of Mellotron for a prog-like effect. There’s no faulting the just-distorted-enough-to-remain-sweet guitar solo that concludes the puzzlingly titled “Aquafish,” or the slow-building prog-ish title track, with its layers of acoustic guitars, volume pedal-sweetened electric guitars, vintage electric piano and synths. Perhaps the most impressive part of this album is that Taylor played most of the instruments himself, receiving help from others on only two songs.

front parlour logo