Shawn Braley

"I think Cincinnati has great music."

Quite often, in most any city, you can go into a bar and find a singer/songwriter belting away lyrics penned from pages in their diary. Love lost is an obvious choice and often relatable. Kim Taylor, one of Cincinnati’s best songwriters, if not the best, seems to be, on the surface, one of those diary singing songwriters. What one may not notice are the subtle differences. Taylor isn’t forcing this. Yes, she writes bitterly honest lyrics and sometimes those lyrics are about love lost, but they’re never shallow or pedantic. Taylor has had a few songs of hers be featured in shows like One Tree Hill, but she isn’t pandering to the lowest common denominator. She should be championed for making music that doesn’t sell itself out while being able to accrue attention in a large venture such as national T.V.

Taylor is soft and sweet while seeming to have some sort of dark side. She often reveals it in her honest lyrics. On “Let Me Down” she exudes the fears and anxieties of dealing with an “ungrateful lover” by asking said lover to push her in to a frozen hole they have dug. Taylor’s lyrics are often revealing, yet hopeful. It ends with the line “Maybe you’re gonna be born again”, which brings the rest of the song an almost religious tone; “Let Me Down is all about people being dishonest to one another. That line specifically pulls from the religious idea of being born again and connects it with the American idea of re-invention.” Taylor is able to add touches of religious or dramatic flare into her songs without it seeming overbearing.

When asked what kind of truth she hoped to convey with her writing she said; “Oh, probably the truth of the human condition. (I believe) that there's great joy and great sorrow-- equal parts, and a shit ton of mystery, and then there's science. God, I love science.” There’s little more that can be said of a Kim Taylor song, as each one, like a perfect dish created by a master chef, as equal parts of joy and sorrow. Two ingredients one wouldn’t usually put together, but when done right, it is exquisite.

“I started writing to escape some tragedy in my life. I grew up playing flute and piano, band nerd, and loved poetry. So one day when I was about 17, (I) sat down and wrote a song on my piano. I was desperate for an outlet and songwriting provided that for me.” As many writers do, Taylor began writing as a form of therapy. It’s obvious in each song that Taylor is getting out some inner demons, as each song seems to have been written with its own back story.

Kim described her writing and how it’s changed from when she began, in 2002, to now by saying; “It’s just like Kurt Vonnegut said, "When I write I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth." This feeling has never gone away. I'm still a perpetual mess just like back then.” And in those words we find the self deprecating humor and the literary love you will find in Kim Taylor. She loves Emily Dickinson. She talks more about poetry than she does other bands. She collaborates with Cincinnati’s much beloved Over The Rhine. She is a staple in the scene, if you ask me, overlooked by far too many people.

“I think Cincinnati has some great music. Truly, am I a staple in Cincinnati? That makes me blush. I heart Cincinnati. Fuck Vanity Fair.”
Photos by Natasha Braley