For some, the process of making music can appear effortless. For others, bringing one’s music to life might take decades. The music welling up in the heart and mind of its creator, like a fine wine, or in this case, one of the finest debut albums, by any artist, in any genre, in many decades.
One could say that Tommy Taylor has one of those classic “you don’t know me, but you’ve heard me” musician stories. He has spent years as the drummer and backing vocalist behind singer/songwriter (Grammy and Oscar winner) Christopher Cross and guitarist Eric Johnson. Tommy has also played behind: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Charlie Sexton, Will Sexton, Sara Hickman, Charlie and Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis, Jake Andrews, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Benson and Shawn Colvin.
Tommy has been preparing himself and his music for years to become the album Across The Stars. It is a recording comprised of what Taylor calls “Chekovian vignettes” - nine cinematic stories filtered through a lifetime of insights and emotions, delivered in his tenor voice that falls somewhere between the lilt of Jackson Browne’s and the edge of Don Henley. Taylor’s lyrics are incredibly personal and incredibly universal simultaneously. Who hasn’t felt like the people in your life were there to “Let You Down?” Taylor describes himself as an observer. However, the songs on this album are filled with the stories and experience you get by living - not by watching. At the end of the 9 songs, you are left with a man’s personal catharsis, and you are the richer for having had the experience.
After years of his friends and colleagues encouraging Tommy to write his songs and get them recorded, Taylor finally went in the studio and started work on the album. With a little help from Christopher Cross, legendary record producer and keyboardist Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Amy Grant, Steely Dan, Glen Campbell, Boz Scaggs, Jerry Garcia and Dolly Parton) agreed to play on Tommy’s album. After finishing his work and hearing the final mixes Michael said: “Man, this is a really good album. Everything sounds great. Wonderful songs and the overall production and musicianship is first rate.” That was on top of praise for Taylor’s vocals on various tracks, and his declaration that the song “Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down” “sounds like a smash.” You might catch yourself singing along to that chorus the very first time you hear it.
Michael Omartian’s words are a priceless endorsement, especially for an artist whose debut work has taken a few decades to arrive. But in his Across The Stars liner notes, Taylor explains, “This first effort is a culmination of a lifetime of personal ups and downs, and interests and pursuits.” Isn’t that a perfect description of a life well-lived? Across the Stars was released on September 22nd, 2023.