Taylor Barton learned her trade in the presence of musical royalty. Her husband, guitarist GE Smith, put the young songwriter backstage with musical legends like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jerry Garcia, and thus, her first song was conceived in the back of Dylan’s tour bus. Born in Baltimore, Maryland she learned to meld urban grit with soulful art.
Barton, a modern singer-songwriter, will release House Of Light this fall—a soulful, original and introspective record. It’s a courageous and personal story of going through emotional traumas and coming out on the other side. “When I was writing the songs for this album, my mother died, which triggered a major splintering in my family of origin,” she explains. “There was also a suicide that affected our family. The song, ‘Where Did You Go’ speaks to that. Ultimately, the songs are about redemption and forgiveness.”
Tony Shanahan who is Patti Smith’s bandleader produced the 11-song, House Of Light. Shanahan also lends bass, background vocals, acoustic guitar and synthesizer. GE Smith adds his talents playing mandolin, bass, acoustic guitar, slide and electric guitar, while Americana music darling, Sarah Jarosz lends mandolin, banjo and background vocals to a couple of songs. The rest of the band is filled out with Tom Brislin on keyboards, Bill DeBrew and Josh Dion on drums and Jenni Muldaur on background vocals.
The writing is simpler on House Of Light compared to Barton’s last record, Everybody Knows. “I was trying to get to the bone of the song,” she imparts. “We also used instrumentation to calm the listeners during this chaotic era. I was a big fan of Norah Jones, ‘Come Away With Me’ because it was the tonic everyone needed after 9/11. I wanted to calm everyone after the dissention that has occurred on every level of people’s lives in this day and time.”
The recording process hit a few bumps along the way, before coming to fruition. “All of us, Tony Shanahan, GE and I were experiencing really tragic, traumatic events during the making of this record,” Barton recalls. “We stopped production while Tony’s wife was operated on for a brain tumor. GE’s father died, and then my daughter’s childhood friend committed suicide. We stopped production again, while the family took some time to heal. It was rough-going some days, but we managed to push through and get this intense collection done. Finally, Sarah Jarosz came in and nailed it with her magical, monstrous talent, and brought us all back to reality to finish what we started.”
The mystic sounds of the title track, “House of Light” opens the record and sets its tone. The song “Chaos” adds a little groove to the sound, while the country-tinged “Steeplechase” and “The Wheatfields” feature Jarosz’ vocal and mandolin additions while displaying Barton’s gift for melody and elegant phrasing.
House of Light is a huge excavation of Barton’s buried memories from childhood and the volatile, unpredictable relationship she had with both her mother, and the state she fled.
“Most of the new songs are turbulent letters or confessions to my mother,” Barton discloses. “I was thinking of the people I knew in Maryland which is where I grew up, and specifically the heartbreak I was negotiating. I was letting go of so many people, places and things that I loved. I have lost my home state, as my family members have died or moved away and when my mother passed, there was no more home to go to. I felt like a refugee. I drove around familiar streets feeling like a ghost.” Barton’s stories convey the beauty of that suffering and the determination of healing. House of Light focuses on what’s at the center of that light, and allows her to take a triumphant bow.
Taylor Barton has released eight critically acclaimed CD’s, and won 10 ASCAP Awards. She was 'an Official selection' for the Mill Valley Film Festival for her film; 50-Watt Fuse and she released a wild, raucous novel called Hotheaded Saints. All her work is available on iTunes. For more information: http://taylorbarton.com/