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MUSIC REVIEW: Benjamin Taylor, O2 Academy

Gayna Rose Madder sees what the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor has to say for himself. But has to move up to the front

Published on October 15th 2009.

MUSIC REVIEW: Benjamin Taylor, O2 Academy

FROM the outset, Ben Taylor makes it clear that he is an independent artist with his own label.

It is obvious that Taylor Jnr's lyrics arise from a somewhat sheltered and privileged existence

Not something, perhaps, that most artists would boast about, given that it's so difficult to get a deal these days unless you win a TV talent show or have a relative in the business. But therein hangs a tale.

He begins a quiet, folky set by explaining what the song is about, at some length – and this continues as he presents a collection of melodically well constructed songs with thoughtful lyrics. They are about girls, girls, more girls and - his mum. And his dad. And his sister and even her unborn child.

But there is a distinct difference in the way he refers to each parent – His mother is “an astonishingly talented songwriter” (Carly Simon, if you didn't know) while “Dad” is “hung over, nodding, sitting on the couch”. Odd then, to hear this latter sung in a voice and style almost identical to that of his old man, who is, of course, James Taylor.

Tall, broad-shouldered and blessed with good-looks (hard not to notice) the fruit of this musical union is a sensitive singer and talented guitarist. His quiet set has the audience captivated, hanging on his every word.

Unfortunate, as 40 mins into proceedings, staff emerged into the main auditorium, noisily wheeling large bins across the floor. Then glasses and cans started clanking, while packaging was ripped from multipacks at the bar. Audience members wanting to carry on listening had to leave their seats to stand at the front. Bars had to be stacked, it was explained, as there was another concert later.

Back on stage it is obvious that Taylor Jnr's lyrics arise from a somewhat sheltered and privileged existence. In one song, which he clearly finds amusing, he invites audience participation - calling back the word “dirty” at moments in the song. If there is any criticism, it all seems rather schoolboyish and immature.

Before him, Ollie Childs kicked off the night and sang and played a heartfelt singer-songwriter set.

He was followed by Nell Bryden, a New Yorker with a huge singing voice, a vintage Gibson which she carried in its case and then tuned onstage, and - a drummer! In the loudest set of the night, Nell is an accomplished performer - committed, clear and with the sort of control over her audience that no clattering glasses could fluster.

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