Charm Taylor • The Road Within (EP) • Release Date: May 5, 2015
First impressions are unalterable. Once the tone has been set, changing perceptions is a truly arduous task. When dropping an album, if the impression given off by the artist is iffy, it could determine the state of the said artist’s career. On her debut solo EP The Road Within, Charm Taylor ensures she’ll leave an impression that none can or will forget. The Honorable South front woman can be best described as eclectic – a genre-bender mixing a little bit of this and that. Arguably, The Road Within lies somewhere between stylistic labels alternative, hip-hop, and soul music, but ultimately, Taylor does her own thing with the help of colleague, friend, and producer Saint Rock.
“Mother Of Nine” is definitely the exemplification of future soul; it opens The Road Within with a bang. After an enigmatic instrumental intro, “Mother of Nine” gains some stability before confounding once more as Taylor ‘busts a rhyme’ aka rap. It’s odd characterized by a mystical sentiment, but it definitely makes the listener curious as what is to come. Tone setter? Definitely.
“Green Acres” possesses a luxurious, soulful sound that’s also influenced by old school hip-hop. This sound is a perfect backdrop for Taylor, who contrasts the luxuriousness with jagged, quasi-sung, quasi-rapped vocals. While the enigma hasn’t been erased from opener “Mother of Nine,” the listener has a better grasp of the script for “Green Acres.” An interlude, “Mosiah’s Mantra,” once more eliminates predictability in favor of extraterrestrial, innovative spirit. As Imagine Dragons put it, “welcome to the new age!”
“Moksha” follows, interestingly contrasting everything else preceding it. The production is animated, highlighted by the drums and a heightened electro-infused script. Similar to “Mother of Nine,” Taylor’s concept is otherworldly, which is both artistically impressive, yet confusing. Regardless, “Moksha” is one-of-a-kind. A lengthier interlude, “ODU” follows, as slick and unpredictable as everything else.
“Clothes” has a moody disposition in reference to its alt-soul backdrop, but is arguably the most sensual record from the EP. Brief at just over two minutes, “Clothes” packs quite a punch. The EP’s third and final interlude, “Mind As Water” precedes penultimate joint “Ascension,” which is captivating as its jubilant title suggests. Taylor spits with vigor over manic, energetic production continuing to eschew labels. Title tack “The Road Within” concludes the EP. Interestingly, the summative track is arguably one of it’s most accessible.
Ultimately, Charm Taylor has created something new and fresh on The Road Within. An interesting trip, those who love their music ‘next level’ will eat up the ambitiousness of this effort. Those who prefer their script to be more predictable likely will have difficulty digesting this. Regardless, Taylor’s debut solo EP is something to behold.
Favorites: “Mother of Nine,” “Green Acres” and “Clothes”