Defy the World
Kathleen Taylor Defy the World At first blush, Kathleen Taylor's music suggests the wide-eyed, innocent worldview of a child. But don't be fooled by all the kittens, crickets, tree frogs and fuzzy caterpillars that populate her full-length debut: she's an Art Nouveau princess with a pair of brass knuckles. Like Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the whimsy of Taylor's Defy the World is laced with a dark sense of mystery and adult wisdom that deepens with each visit down the proverbial rabbit hole. Born in California, raised in Colorado and Florida and now happily based in Austin, Texas, Taylor wrote and recorded her first CD, Songs for Mothra, in 2007. The collection of acoustic demos was a tribute to her late mother, whose love of songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon made an indelible impression on Taylor as a child and still informs her songs to this day. But as revealed on the exquisitely produced and fully-realized Defy the World, Taylor's music is practically a genre unto itself: playful and literate, simple and ornate, beautiful and ... well, more than a little bizarre. Her lyrics are inspired by the natural wonders of the great outdoors, the fever-dream passion of her favorite Romantic poets and even, she admits, the mystical world of the wee fairy folk. And her musical vision - as vividly captured on the album by producer Michael Hynes - is no less otherworldly. On Defy the World, Taylor's strong, honest voice and gentle finger-picked guitar and banjo duel (and dance) with tubas, glockenspiel, vibraphone, melodica, pedal steel, musical saw and even chirping crickets. Call it baroque Americana, technicolor folk or even quirk pop; whatever it is, it's a trippy musical experience you won't soon forget. Or want to. As a professional musician and songwriter, Taylor's journey has only just begun. But thanks to the World Wide Web, her music has already circled the globe, netting widespread underground airplay across America, Europe and down under in New Zealand. More than 5,000 fans have already discovered her songs on MySpace, and with Defy the World now on iTunes, she's poised to reach even more. Meanwhile, as she prepares to launch her performing and touring career in earnest out of the "live music capital of the world," Taylor continues to write and explore the bountiful wonderland of her singularly whimsical muse. Whatever mystery it turns up next - and where it takes her - remains to be seen, but this much is a given: It's bound to be interesting. 'Everything about this debut by Austin-based Florida transplant Kathleen Taylor - from it's strikingly original songs and production to the battalion of marching frogs on it's cover - is an exhilarating breath of fresh air. Taylor's voice as both a writer and singer is steeped in richly poetic whimsy; but the production and arrangements here, rife with instrumental flourishes like tuba, vibraphone, banjo, musical saw and cricket chirps, transform her music into something truly extraordinary. The opening 'Satellite Cats' plays like Paul Simon at his most playful crossed with Lewis Carroll, and 'Defy The World' just gets weirder and more wonderful from there, like the soundtrack to a surreal fairy tale. Fittingly, it's plenty dark, too, with songs like 'Cul-de-sac Apocalypse' and 'Old Enough to Know Better' that shimmer and shiver like ghost-lit fever dreams. Best of all, though, is the title track, a personal battle cry as rousing as it is sonically inventive. Defy the world, indeed.' - Richard Skanse, Texas Music Magazine, Spring 2009.