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Terry Scott Taylor

A Briefing for the Ascent


CCM Magazine May 1987
by Brian Quincy Newcomb

"I die a little every day I live," sings Terry Taylor in his second solo album, A Briefing for the Ascent. Like Last year's Knowledge & Innocence, Taylor's attention is turned to subjects deeply personal and conceptual, and again the music is subdued when compared to his band DA. Addressing essentially the same concerns that spawned 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff that some "have fallen asleep" - a Christian's response to death - A Briefing for the Ascent finds Taylor passing through a picture gallery on the edge of the wildwood, a reference point in Knowledge & Innocence where each picture moves viewers toward the acceptance of their mortality.

While songs like the title track, "The Wood Between the Worlds," "My Love, My Love," and "Capture Me" stand out, they are inextricably tied to the whole of the piece, encapsulating the album's strengths and weaknesses. The problem with any concept album, especially one about the reality of death and coping with the loss of loved ones, is that it's not always what you want to listen to even though certain songs are quite appealing. This is a limiting factor that fans of Taylor ought to be used to.

Taylor has shaken the Lennon-isms that have often overridden his own creative urges and here evokes the balladeer stance, taking one step closer to the Beach Boys than to Bryan Ferry. At times, the other-worldly sounds of synths and lilting guitars are just too much and you wish for a syncopated measure to hang your interest on, but essentially it is the deeply personal and reflective nature of the material that will make or break it for listeners. While hard-core DA fans may weather the quiet of low tide, it will take more from the often enigmatic and entertaining Taylor to draw in new appreciators.