Beauty and Essex next door to The legendary Hotel Café showcase venue in Hollywood was the perfect place for Taylor Grey’s pre-show music launch reception. Good food, good drinks, good view and a few steps from the stage where she Grey was going to road-test six new songs to be released later this year out of a total set of seven–the seventh, “Back to Bite”, had come out that morning. They set was a bit of a departure from the electro pop music in her debut album, Space Case, but, like those on the album, each was a carefully crafted work of art. That is how this Stanford Junior in Neural Biology who also tours and records does things – meticulously, right down to launching new songs LA-style.
Grey mounted the stage looking totally comfortable in a black running suit that showed off her glorious blond hair. With her high-wattage smile she opened with “Toxic”, setting a moving and swaying musical mood for the rest of the evening. She segued into “Talk to Me” with its deceptively simple backbeat that framed her voice as she soared and we applauded.
Grey moved a stool onstage, and sat down to chat with the audience about preferring to be home watching her favorite TV serials, sliding into “Won’t Say Shhh” with its haunting verses colored by Taylor’s opera-trained voice. The stool went away and she sat down on the edge of stage, three feet from the front tables (one of which unfortunately held 4 young women crammed onto three chairs who talked and looked at their phones during the whole concert) and delivered what I think was the best song of the night, “Warning”.
She moved to the keyboard for “Goodbye” after warning us that her piano playing was not the best (it was great) and downshifted the tempo to the deeply emotional “Non Goodbye”. She was back on her feet and back in up-tempo land for “Heathers” and her “empowerment song” as she called her closing track “Back to Bite”. Of course we all wanted more, but it was not to be; there was another band scheduled behind her and of course the post-gig party next door.
Fortunately, Taylor actually could go to her party and celebrate with bubbly because she just turned 21. Despite her youth, she has years of song writing and performing experience behind her, penning lyrics at 12, in opera training from childhood, and teaching herself piano and guitar as a teen. She debuted in 2016, with a two-part EP Mind of Mine I & II, joined John Whiteside’s summer “Lovesick Tour”, and then was a special guest on The Summer Set’s sold out “Made For You” Tour in the fall of 2016. She released Space Case last year, cementing her place and creating a springboard for more.
The Hotel Café concert showed us that there is more. In the big, noisy post-performance party back at B&E, she told me she was still getting to know and understand herself, learning how to take the drama in her short life and mine it for lyrics, and how to pull together all of her musical training and influences from opera to musicals into songs that she was happy with. This is the story of any rising musician: who am I?, where am I going?, how should I decide what to do next? Taylor Grey is exploring all that and she has another decision to make – what does she do when she graduates with a science degree from one of America’s best universities? I think whatever she decides, there will be more Taylor Grey songs, and they will just keep getting better. And I know she will know how to launch them, LA-style.