Sometimes music finds you most when you need it. Such was the case with Sun, a five-track EP from SoCal-based singer-songwriter Gloria Taylor, which perched on the horizon of my soul Monday morn and bathed me in light. It’s a folk-flavored song cycle inspired by her volunteer work as a sound healer during the pandemic and, as one might expect from that insight, touches upon life, love and more. The songs themselves are accented by her warm vocals and ethereal harmonies, while traces of Simon & Garfunkel, Jackson Browne, Christine McVie and Joni Mitchell echo throughout. It’s a meditative wonder.
The EP, which was released in June 2022, opens with “100 Different Ways,” about attempts to bridge a chasm between people. It could be about a fading relationship. It could be about the world’s fading civility: “We talked about dreaming and where we find meaning to soothe our soul/And the fears that are hiding, the false lies dividing us for control/I walked to the fire and felt so inspired to set us free/So I offered a prayer, and it sailed through the air like poetry….”
“Luna” continues in the same vein: “Luna, I think that it’s time for a revolution/I have my drum and my heart open wide like you/And we could dance into the streets and call for peace/And we could turn up all the lights.” Whether she’s addressing the Roman goddess of the moon, Harry Potter’s friend Luna Lovegood or a friend matters not, really. She’s singing to—and for—you and me.
The title track celebrates the warmth of the sun, which showers us with light much like music does the soul. The video captures its essence, I think:
“Sweetness Cries” reminds me of Jackson Browne’s “These Days” in spots, but the sonic remnants give way to the utter warmth of Taylor’s vocals. Lyrically, it chronicles the cyclical evolution of life, moving from “dreams carry light in the sequence of time/the birth of a prayer you thought you left behind” to “truth knows its place in the sequence of time/the birth of a dream you thought you left behind.”
The 22-minute set comes to a close with “You Know,” in which anger and exasperation bubble up from beneath the song’s calm surface: “When the air is thick and it’s hard to breathe/And you wanna run and you wanna fly/So you scream it out to the angry sky….” It’s a perfect end to a lustrous outing that, if I were to sum it up in a few words, is gentle catharsis set to song. Seek it out.
The track list: