If you would've asked me who Lewis Taylor was last week I wouldn't have had a clue. After listening to this I'm a fan for life.
When he first dropped his self titled debut in the UK back in 1996 I wasn't really trying to check for new R&B (I was too busy looking for old records!). Taylor was signed to Island Records as the next "blue eyed soul" man, but he is much more than that. In response to his label trying to sell him as a pre-Robin Thicke, he turned in demos of what would later become The Lost Album and was met with a giant "WTF?" from Island. Instead of another Neo Soul album, he made what one reviewer called "a mix of mid-‘70s Southern California rock and British symphonic-pop". That's oversimplifying in my opinion. This is definitely pop-rock with obvious influences from the Beach Boys to Todd Rundgren, but it's incredibly layered and lush, with a unique sound all it's own. What makes it all the more incredible is that he played every instrument and sang every note by himself.
Needless to say, Island didn't know how to market him and after turning in Lewis II in place of this album, he was dropped from the label. These demos sat until 2004 when he and writing partner Sabina Smyth re-recorded the songs and released it on Taylor's own Slow Reality label in the UK. Fast fwd 3 years (you still with me?) and it finally sees the light of day in the U.S. via HackTone Records.
Just as it seemed like he was going to breakthrough stateside (his fans include D'Angelo, Darryl Hall, Aaliyah, & David Bowie among others) he retired from music during his first tour. Any info I've been able to find is from past interviews and reviews. All YouTube videos have been taken down (at his request), his website is shut down and he has declined to do interviews.
Now I know this is not my usual kind of thing to post (to be honest, it's not my usual thing), but this record really hit me. Maybe it's because he manages to articulate what I'm striving for in my own music. Or the fact that I've been listening to The Beatles for the last two months. I dunno. Any way it goes, give it a listen and form your own opinion. It won't be for everybody, but it definitely is for me.
Lewis Taylor - Please Help Me..If You Can
Lewis Taylor - Send Me An Angel (only available on original UK release)
*shout out to Aser!*