Real artistry is about peeling back the layers of your soul and allowing the creative truth to take form. Russell Taylor taps into that creative space and unlocks a masterpiece in his latest musical offering, War of Hearts, on his own Indigo Blue label.
Far from a novice in the music game, Russell - a self-professed nomad - has poured out his heart and soul on the world stages, including stops in London, Amsterdam and Paris as well as famed stateside venues from The Mint and The Roxy in Los Angeles to SOB’s and Joe’s Pub in New York. Through his travels, Russell has created a fan base as diverse as his multi-genre catalog of recordings.
Russell’s previous offerings Somewhere In Between (2007) and Confessional - a Soultracks.com ‘must have records’ (2010) - are sprinkled with gentle gems like the alluring “2B Loved” and the stripped down, acoustic brilliance of “All Said & Done” to the sexually charged “Hands 2 Myself” and the military cadence of “Fair Game,” and have satisfied the appetites of music lovers the world over.
Additionally, Russell has shared the stage with major artists from Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and India.Arie, to legends Isaac Hayes and Patti LaBelle; an amazing fete for an independent artist.
The textbook definition of an independent artist, Russell Taylor continues to embrace his freedom on War of Hearts, as he unabashedly takes the helm of his artistry and navigates his own course. “I made this record full of songs that I’d like to hear,” professes Russell.
The common thread of love and its various shades are explored through the eleven tracks on War of Hearts. This singer/songwriter and past recipient of The John Lennon Song writing contest, reveals that the solitude of the recording booth acted as a confessional (of sorts) as he embarked on this new chapter in his musical evolution. “I got out of my head and really tapped deeper into my creative and at times vulnerable side,” admits Russell. “I do my best to wear my heart and emotions on my sleeve.”
Pairing up with his musical director Brandon A. Thomas, Russell tapped into his personal and musical influences to create his most intimate collections of songs to date for War of Hearts.
Described as the ‘turning point’ in his musical career, the deeply personal ballad, “War of Hearts” captures the epitome of that newfound freedom. Russell reveals that the ‘battle for love’ song, co-penned and produced by Tim Kvasnosky, served as an ‘emotional breakthrough,’ as well as one of the first steps to real musical freedom.
Collaborating with Nicholas Ryan Grant and Salakida Kali, the Needlz (Lil’ Wayne, Bruno Mars, Swizz Beats) produced track “Foolish Heart” examines the joys and pains of a tumultuous love affair. “Love is pleasure / Love is pain / Without the fire / It don’t feel the same.” Grammy-winning super producer Needlz captured the soul of this angelic track.
This ‘multi-genre-influenced’ soul-singer embraces the beautiful imperfections of his voice. “I have a pretty good range,” admits Russell. “It’s gravelly and [in the past] I didn’t like the sound of that. But the producers that I am working on with this album were like, ‘That’s what makes your voice beautiful. It’s dope! Push it! It’s genuine and authentic,’“
On “Electric,” we find Russell pairing up again with Tim Kvasnosky for a sure-to-be-international-club banger; a track that will have revelers hitting the dance floor in record speed.
Switching gears, Russell tackles social issues on the emotionally charged “Ghetto Street USA” track written by Salakida Kali and produced by Needlz. Featuring a thumping wall of sound powered by a mesmerizing drumbeat, this song screams with intensity.
War of Hearts also features the brilliant works Shelton Garner (“Let Me Love You”) and Brandon A. Thomas (“Carry You” and “Blueprint”), and has something for every music lover.
The album brings Russell full circle as he channels his past and present musical influences. “As a kid my mom and dad played soul music from the likes of Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack, but equally exposed me to Foreigner, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival,” reflects Russell. Pairing those influences with Gospel undertones, helped to mold a soulful voice that cascades effortlessly over melodic chord changes and the infectious tracks heard today.
With musical influences (who have come to be friends) like Eric Roberson, Estelle, Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi, Russell has definitely created his own unique sound.
Russell’s creativity is not just relegated the musical genre; The Great White Way has called as well. Russell makes his Broadway directorial debut in Gems for one night only, November 8. 2012. This multi-hyphenate has also directed plays including For Colored Girls (New School University) as well mentoring urban youths of color in the arts.
Real and honest are the elements that define the essence of War of Hearts and Russell has created the album he was born to make.