Local Musician and MC Student Naomi Taylor Releases Debut E.P. / Caroline Hunt
Naomi Taylor sits across the table in a vintage denim jacket bedecked with cloth patches that tell a story as rich as her music. She details her start in music, her spontaneous, flowing writing process, and how she balances the life of a creative with her full-time job and student responsibilities at Mississippi College.
The Lucedale, Miss. native laughingly jokes how the denim jacket was a friend’s grandfather’s that she borrowed for a gig. While describing the origin story of the article of clothing, she begins the story of how she became an artist.
Every musician has their “this is it” moment. Taylor remembered learning a Lynyrd Skynyrd song from her guitar-playing dad and how her hands strummed the chords for the first time. This was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life, in any capacity.
The indie/pop-rock Jackson musician described her style as if the Band Camino and LANY were a folk band. In fact, her ideal setlist included tunes like “Dream On” by Aerosmith, “Love Me Like A Man” by Bonnie Raitt, “Life By the Drop” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and “Shelter Me” by Tab Benoit.
“I honestly play a little bit of everything and I also write a little bit of everything. I’ve done country, rap, pop, rock, pretty much all of it,” Taylor said. “Although my favorite thing to play is blues-rock, like true classics. And I would say my favorite writing style is probably more indie-folk stuff.”
A friend–and sometimes co-writer–Hayden Rowell described Taylor’s writing style as completely her own, with a unique aesthetic in her verbiage.
“Naomi tells stories. She is intentional with every line she writes and word she chooses, but somehow never just forces the words together. They all just flow,” said Rowell, who is also an MC student. “The really wonderful part of her writing style is that it’s so charismatic. Her lyrics tend to be poetic and altogether simple.”
Taylor is fresh off of releasing her first E.P. titled “We’ll Find Our Way.” It features four melodic tracks detailing the stirring excitement of new love, the unfamiliar happenings that come along with it, and the pain when it ends.
The first track on the record, akin to The Lumineers’s “Cleopatra,” tells the story of a couple finding their way to each other after life has thrown them off course. “Lost at Sea” by Taylor is the happy ending of what didn’t happen in The Lumineers’s upbeat juxtaposition and slice-of-life song: a lover finding their partner through hardship, contrary to a relationship crumbling because of it. Taylor’s clear, silvery tone invites, “Back on solid ground / Your hand touches my face / So take my hand and / Won’t you dance with me / Around this dark and unrelenting sea?”
Another stand-out on Taylor’s debut E.P. is a sanguine track about the process of falling into a relationship and being taken aback by the feelings bubbling up. The last track on the quartet is “Under Pressure.” It frames the beginning of a relationship–something that is usually thrilling–as a time of unfamiliarity and enduring a certain “pressure.” The bridge of the song states over and over, “I’m not good under pressure / Testing me, testing me / I’m not good under pressure.”
In addition to trying to balance school and her creative passion, Taylor works full-time at a Jackson accounting firm as an intern. As an accounting major, her academic and professional worlds collide with her art. She remedies her time in the office and classroom during the week with time on stage under lights, performing every weekend.
“Trying to balance everything looks like what my desk at work looks like. I have two computer monitors in front of me and a million tabs open. That’s what my brain looks like,” Taylor said, when detailing her busy schedule. “I go to work because it pays the bills. I’m going to classes to just finish my degree and in between my drive from school and work, I’m listening to music, writing verses down in my head, imagining what different sounds I want with what words.”
Another friend of Taylor’s, Bethany Miller, noted that what Taylor does is for one special purpose: a passion that feeds the soul.
“One of the sayings Naomi lives by is ‘For the soul.’ She knows that if it makes her soul happy or knows it’s good for her, she thrives. She’s also crazy driven about the emotions we all feel and making those into something beautiful that others can dance around to and sing to,” Miller said. “Naomi really cares too. She really values the relationships she builds between those she shares her music with.”
Miller recalled a particular relationship-building instance with strangers through Taylor’s music. When playing a big gig, she noticed a blonde-haired little girl sitting enraptured by the stage. After the night was over, Taylor introduced herself to the little girl, invited her on stage, and they sang together. Two single voices sang in an empty venue as the little girl’s mother pulled out her camera and captured the moment.
“Naomi wanted that to be something that little girl would never forget. She wanted to inspire her to maybe pick up a guitar or sing a little more because she used to be that same little girl,” Miller said. “That is what sets her apart in my mind from other artists. She loves the people she plays for and just wants to share her love for music with anyone she can.”
Taylor can be found on all social media platforms and her new E.P. can be listened to wherever music is streamed.