(2016) Taylor Davis: Odyssey

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Artist: Taylor Davis
Album: Odyssey
Released: 28.10.2016
Label: self-released

 

Popular YouTube violinist, Taylor Davis, is back with yet another album. October 2016 marked the release of her second album, comprised entirely of her own material. We’ve covered all of her past albums (excluding anything seasonal), so it’s only natural that we cover Odyssey as well. I had hoped to write this up the week it was released, but I was distracted by another upcoming album that I’ve been listening to like crazy, so we’ll have to settle for its one month anniversary.

 

The album opens with a song called “Gateway”, which has a vaguely industrial feel at the beginning – before and during the violin parts – with some creeping ambience in the backing music. The drums are minimal at first, but build up nicely as the song builds up. The addition of the violin harmonization makes the song quite powerful. This is followed by a song called “The Summit.” The music starts out a bit on the deep and gentle side, but lightens up before a minute passes, making the song feel a bit like an ascent already. There’s a hint of electronica in the music, which adds a nice touch (perhaps some Lindsey Stirling influence?). The song feels rather uplifting, which is appropriate based on the title, and I enjoy the harmonizing line (though I confess I don’t know what type of programmed sound it is).

Next up is “Wilderness”, which you’ve likely already heard, as its video has been out a while now. I’ll say from the start that I love this music video, from the imagery to her outfit and the music itself, it’s very enjoyable. I love how the music kicks off quickly to the plucked violin parts – those should be used more often in violin music! It’s hard for me to break this song apart to explain what I like about it because it’s the song as a whole with the beat and energy that feels really good. I could listen to this while walking in the woods or while running around Skyrim.

“Wilderness” is followed by “Hunter’s Frontier”, which is one of my very favorites on this album. Davis said in our interview with her earlier this fall that this song was dedicated to her late dog, Hunter, and that it was the most positive song on the album because Hunter was so full of life and energy. I particularly enjoy the folky Canadian prairie vibe that this song gives off because it reminds me of home and playing violin throughout my youth. I also like this song because it makes me imagine a dog running around in a field with that happy, carefree energy that dogs have.

Next up is “Voyager”, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a violin song when it starts up (a pop or rock song, maybe). It takes a nice turn when the violin starts though, not going where I would have expected if it was a pop/rock song. The hint of electronica is present again, giving off a bit of a digital vibe. This song grows on me every time I hear it. “Tales of the Wind” sounds like, from its title, it might be from a Miyazaki movie, though the piano intro doesn’t have that lighthearted fairytale style one would expect from Miyazaki. The gentle intro is almost-but-not-quite melancholic. Respectful comes to mind. This is one of the slower songs on the album.

“Highland Spirit” gave me the hopes for something Scottish-influenced, as again, much of the music I played in my youth was either Scottish or Irish influenced. The song does not fail to impress, as the percussion and feeling to bring me a bit back to Nova Scotia and even the Scottish highlands themselves. This mid-tempo song really pleases me, in spite of the fact that I usually prefer more upbeat songs. It might be the 3/4 tempo that does it but something in the music feels rather authentic to me, and that’s what makes this a winner.

Some deep piano notes introduce “Everlasting”, which is another one of the more gentle tracks on the album. The piano (I think) part in the background gives this slower track a hint of playfulness that almost reminds me of The Legend of Zelda in some nonspecific way. This song feels like it could be in the score for an adventure movie, right before things kick off (like when Frodo leaves The Shire – that kind of moment). “Legendary Guardian”, interestingly enough, sounds just like that. With a few modifications, it sounds like it could be from the Titan Soul soundtrack until the music speeds up a bit. The progression of this song is a bit all over the place and a couple transitions are awkward, but I do like the bit at about 2:30 that reminds me of some of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music. This track feels a bit like there’s two different songs mashed together, as the second half is quite different from the first half, but I seem to enjoy it nevertheless.

“Solace” is another slower song, and the shortest on the album at just over 3 minutes. This gives me a bit of a flashback to the Naruto song that she had covered, “Sadness and Sorrow”, though they’re not exactly comparable. They do have a similar feel of melancholy to them though. “Ignite” is another personal favorite – I did say I liked the faster songs after all. By a bit of an odd circumstance I got to know this one a little better than the others immediately, in that my Spotify got stuck on one-song repeat and I ended up listening to this song three times by accident before I realized what had happened. I like the introduction and the violin line in this one feels a bit more inspired. This one somehow suits the album art to me, in my mind, and I like the light, airy feel it has.

The album then closes up with “Starfire.” I’ve usually had a minor complaint in Davis’ album organization in that the albums tend to end on a low note instead of a high one, but this song has a lot to it and a good deal of nice energy and fun arrangement that make it actually a rather good closer for the album. One of the nicer songs on the album again, it’s bright and cheerful and ends the album on a nice note.

 

One thing I love about Davis’ music is that it feels like score music with just a little bit of something extra that makes it into something you can listen to actively. If you like your music more poppy and electronic, you might prefer the stylings of Lindsey Stirling, but I like my instrumental music to stick closer to movie scores or game scores, which obviously makes Davis appeal to me a bit more. In particular, “Wilderness”, “Hunter’s Frontier”, and “Ignite” are some of the most delightful songs on the album and I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys violin music in one way or another.

Rating: 9.5/10, 5 stars

Tracklist:
1. Gateway
2. The Summit
3. Wilderness
4. Hunter’s Frontier
5. Voyager
6. Tales of the Wind
7. Highland Spirit
8. Everlasting
9. Legendary Guardian
10. Solace
11. Ignite
12. Starfire

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