Taylor Robinson: SLIP Album Review

November 13, 2019

 

On his debut EP, Robinson makes the case for funky white boys with swag.

4 songs and an ambitious intro make up the body of work the world will come to know as SLIP. Born from the mind of drummer-turned-artist, Taylor Robinson, is an EP that feels both romantically nostalgic and incredibly current. Full disclosure, I both know and adore Taylor. His beard, his voice, his propensity for t-shirts, you’ve never met a nicer man. When we first met at an event for a celebrity child’s “art thing”, Robinson stuck out in a room full of people hoping to prove they belong. Down on New York City’s Lower East Side, the music was loud, the AC was not working and there we were attempting to socialize. What struck me most about our meeting was not his resume or his connections but his choice to disregard them. Here we are at a music event for somebody whose dad is somebody, surrounded by a gaggle of fashion girls who love to name drop their contacts - as much as their labels- and Taylor almost forgot to mention that he even played. He spoke of his time in NYC, his thoughts on the show but not until the end did he mention that he was a touring musician who not only played with but personally knew quite a handful of music industry darlings.

 

 As we left the bar that night and every time since, I’ve known him to speak of what he does and why he does it but never the clout that surrounds him. Listening to the music, consuming the album and even following along with his insta-stories, it’s obvious that this is someone who is un-ambitiously cool in a way that can only happen when you’re a nice person who has a lot of talent and a love for what you do. A white guy with natural rhythm who can also play the drums, he’s the type to walk through the red carpet in a t-shirt (behind the influencers who sing covers for a living) and dap up the bouncer, the bartender and the host. That level of swag – which is borderline sexy - comes through loud in clear in his debut EP. While the rhythm and flow feel right at home with Blood Orange and Ari Lennox,  the album plays with a level of comfort that up-until-now only Musiq Soulchild and D’Angelo could provide. It’s not that you know this song, but that this song knows you. 
 

 

The SLIP journey starts with a muted bass-led intro featuring Lamont Landers that swells into the type of song that plays when the lead character in a coming-of-age film walks the down the hallway after ditching his glasses for contacts and having sex with the hottest girl in school. The lyrics “I’m who you want to be / I’m what you wanted once and what she wants to see / I’m walking confidence in my abilities / Good gracious that boy is shameless“ are an opening salvo to a neo-funk musical tale full of masculinity and warmth.

 

Sucking up most of the air on the the album is the single featuring Caleb Hawley that dares to ask the question “What’s the matter? Why you wanna be Somebody’s Fool”? The sultry number paints a picture of a love-struck “sucker” with eyes for a woman whose destined to break his heart. A less than original story born anew by the whimsical and upbeat 3rd person narration. One can only imagine the stories Taylor could tell as he reminisces of love lost and the pinpointing moments he should have walked away. But as the tempo change at the end of the song will tell you, not everything goes the way you think it should. 

 

Like clockwork, the foolish ways of yesterday fade and Can’t Let Go enters with a boom snap and sense of boundaries meant for a phoenix rising from the ashes of their trash ex. The pop hit offers harmonies and electronic nuance without feeling synthetic or stepping too far out of the moment Robinson is building.

 

Taking an unexpected but most welcomed turn is Dimension of Love - A soulful bop that I didn’t know I needed. A collaboration with J. Hoard, the song offers the weighted easiness of true R&B and an intensity that can only be appreciated by those who have known affection intimately. As the instructions “Take My hand, then I’ll know / If the starting point is a race or a road trip” blare over the speakers, we’re forced to do just that and stand with our sirens as they feel the unbearable lightness of being, in love. 

 

Closing out the project is a song that I’d love to end my Friday nights with. Gotta Go? is the kind of music you want to listen to on vinyl as you get high with your friends or make out with the hot guy you just met at the bar. Vibey and funky, sexy and well-produced, this song lives in your hips and on your shoulders and you never want it to end. 

 

But end it did, and so does the music. And all I could do is press repeat. This project is, by far, one of my favorite things to happen this year. It embodies everything that I love about music while simultaneously providing a very poignant perspective on the role that music plays in our lives. With SLIP, Robinson tells a story of a bonafide cool kid with a quirky inner monologue who takes life a day at a time. The music is well-seasoned, the selection of songs is curated and the album feels necessary. The veracity in which Taylor steps from behind his drums to stand flatfoot and deliver a body of work that many would consider “out of his realm”, speaks to his authenticity. The quality in which he does so speaks to his talent.

 

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