FFO: Simon Taylor | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo by Jon Forster

​Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Simon Taylor is set to perform a headline show at Alphabetti on Thursday 1st February. His ‘LIVE on The D’Addario Stage’ event will see Simon perform his Latin, funk and rock-inspired songs, including music from his latest EP, Karma. Support comes from pianist and solo artist Jenny Lascelles.

Ahead of his performance, Simon tries to encapsulate his sound using three songs…

Melody Gardot – Lisboa
I’m a massive fan of the American jazz chanteuse and could have chosen any number of songs from her oeuvre. What is particularly impressive, (and even envy-inducing), is the way she can incorporate foreign languages and settings into her songs with such grace and panache. I wrote a verse in Spanish on my song  “Bolero Loco” back in 2019, which took a bit of achieving as I don’t speak Spanish. But  Gardot seems to be fluent in French judging by some of her songs and on other songs on the album from which this track is taken (“The Absence”) she rocks the Portuguese language with what I can only presume as a non-Lusophone, is aplomb.  

I visited Lisbon a couple of times in 2006 and fell in love with the place and Portugal in general. I still go to Portugal most years now with my family to the beautiful Algarvian resort of Lagos. I’ve written the odd song inspired by this beautiful country but certainly nothing as gorgeous as “Lisboa”. I also relate to Melody Gardot’s experience as she has overcome some profound personal difficulties to forge her own musical career, albeit with somewhat more success than myself. She was knocked down by a car when she was nineteen and suffered severe head and spinal injuries as a result of that. During her recovery, a doctor suggested music therapy as a way of improving her short-term memory and reforming the pathways between the neurons in her brain. Previously she had only pursued music as a hobby. I’ve had my own problems with my mental health condition schizoaffective disorder since I was diagnosed with this in 2001. I think that, like Gardot,  I’ve been blessed with some kind of route out of pain and despair through creating music as it was the discipline and practice of songwriting that helped me to recover after I had a  psychotic breakdown in 2000. So I feel I can relate to her travails in some respect though 

I am astounded by the bravery she has shown in getting to the position she has in her career after this painful event. 

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Like the songwriter known to the tabloids as  Laughing Lenny due to his morose material, I’m an aficionado of a bit of finger-picking guitar with some melancholic crooning thrown into the mix. If I had to pick an album that my music most resembles then I would go for his first album, “Songs Of Leonard Cohen”,  from his “classical” early period. This song from that album is one of his masterpieces and documents a relationship that didn’t get off the ground most tenderly and sensitively.  That, I can relate to. Before I was able to write songs I wrote lots of poetry as a young man as I tried to come to terms with my mental health condition. Similarly, Leonard  Cohen’s background was in poetry although his skills in this area are another few levels above to say the least. I wrote a song called “Alone” a few years back that shows a  marked Cohen influence and I’ll have to record it one of these days. Ironically, it probably features my favourite lyrics that I’ve written so hopefully I was paying attention when I  was listening to all those Leonard Cohen songs around the time I wrote the song.  

 

Antonio Carlos Jobim – Dindi
Like Leonard Cohen, Jobim is better known and regarded for his songwriting than his actual voice which, like my own, does a job but wouldn’t detain judges on “The Voice” or something similar for too long. But, like Cohen,  what a songwriter he was. I also chose him as his signature sound is a quiet one which I,  as somebody who has also been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, can relate to.  I personally prefer my music quiet and low-key as a result of the way my condition affects me (though not always), which is perhaps my excuse for not attending enough gigs as lots of musicians seem to want to have their guitars turned up to 11 even when playing acoustically, which I don’t enjoy. No such problems with this bossa nova classic from the 

’60’s which is as soothing as a dip in the Southern Atlantic. I was inspired by bossa nova and other forms of Latin music when I started writing songs and my earlier songs had a  few jazzy chords thrown into the mix which perhaps betrayed this influence. More recently my music has become perhaps a bit more rock and pop-orientated but I’m still drawn to the quiet, introspective and acoustic as my little list perhaps demonstrates. 

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