Neo-Soul Kaleidoscoped through Rose-Colored Glasses, Aaron Taylor just wants you to HAVE A NICE DAY!
Evan Dale // Jan 15, 2024
Though not even his latest release, because between its drop at the tail end of November and the beginning of 2024, Aaron Taylor also put out a Christmas single – something that seems custom fit for his timeless, soulful texture – his latest collection, HAVE A NICE DAY! is a quintessential display of what the London-born-and-raised songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist brings to a Neo-Soul renaissance orbiting the UK with particular focus. He has always signed his signature with the instrumentally founded, the epochally transcendent, the emotionally immersive, and the understatedly mellow, even when belting vocal runs most couldn’t muster, and defying the boundaries of era at large.
His 2016 EP, Still Life, boiling over via his standout single, Lessons Learnt, shone a light on his jazz-oriented soul that could have just as easily emerged from the mahogany grain walls of a 60’s Motown studio. In 2018, The Long Way Home acted as an exhibition of his emotional range, stretching from the melancholia of Fix Me – Whiskey to the upbeat Get Through This, and finding its middle-grounded sweet spot within the key-laden romance flexes that were I Think I Love You Again and You’re The Reason Why. When 2021 came around, he was ready to bring it all together for what was his proper debut album, ICARUS. The project spanned nearly an hour, pulled in a smattering of collaborative forces, and to this day, is a cornerstone of the modern Neo-Soul movement, traversing each track with a mosaic of emotional and musical nuances that show what he’s capable of from a wider lens.
Now, he’s adding to it all again with HAVE A NICE DAY! The latest in the prolific string of releases is another display of growth, or better perhaps widening. The widening of his ability to infuse his work with wider reaches of the emotional spectrum. A widening of his musical comfort zones. A widening of what Soul music can sound like in its new Golden Era when stylistically transcendent creatives with myriad skillsets decide to make music that’s authentic to their spirit. Above all else, however, it’s a positivist, funk-strewn collection of uplifting anthems that Aaron Taylor delivers with deft genuineness, where most other modern non-pop artist would falter to convey while maintaining artistic integrity.
Aptly named, the project – and its opening track – bleed first and foremost through the immesnsity of those rose-colored glasses. Leading in with a message of overcoming and pushing through, he implores his listener to simply try and find something to be positive about on a given day. He maintains that life’s too short sort of bounce throughout the project’s 25-minute length. But he does so without seeming corny, and also understands the challenges of the things he’s asking of his listeners.
The following cut gives way to the Ebbs and Flows that defy the persistence of maintaining perfect positivity. That’s just the way it goes, he admits, granting us listeners – and himself - the latitude to feel whatever it is we’re all feeling on this roller coaster called life. He’s got a canon full of music fit for any emotion, after all. And that speaks greatly to the anthemic nature – to the vast situational application – with which Aaron Taylor has always built the framework for his tunes. Everything he’s made can apply somewhere to just about anyone’s life, and yet no one has quite ever masde music like him before.
Because of that artistic individuality, both Madison Ryann Ward and Kota the Friend – themselves vast in their creative pursuits and ultimately unique additions to their respective scenes – find their way into the collaborative spaces of HAVE A NICE DAY! The former, on Patience, helps curate a message of exactly what the title suggests, while maintaining self-belief in the process. Ms. Ward’s high register juxtaposes Mr. Taylor’s own for a timeless duet. The latter, Can’t Be Bothered, is new territory for Aaron Taylor, who, alongside Kota the Friend – another positivist creator in his own right – crafts a cross-genre collaboration that plays perfectly into both artists’ strengths. Kota’s verse, spoon-fed and relatable, is expectedly war, bubbly, and lyrically pervasive.
It's that positivist throughline that really defines HAVE A NICE DAY! Aaron Taylor, a patriarch of the modern London Neo-Soul renaissance, has always inhabited the emotionally warm, but through rose-colored glasses here in 2023 and into 2024, is just trying to brighten everyone’s day. And he’s doing so while making – as he always has – addicting, danceable, soulful, funky music authentic to his innermost self.