In a universe surrounded by music, 25 year-old award winning singer-songwriter, Taylor Tote grew up in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. When Tote is not performing, recording, or writing she is at Marymount Manhattan College studying Media and Arts Management, Social Entrepreneurship, and Music Industry. Her latest collection of songs are presented in an EP entitled “21 Min Drive”. On her first collaboration with producer and songwriter, Russell Hayden, the Jersey Shore native brings together a blend of modern pop, R&B, dance, and electro, to forge four cutting edge musical gems. Recorded remotely, “21 Min Drive” was engineered by Hayden and Tote, and written and produced over the course of three weeks.
In a sentence, Taylor Tote’s “21 Min Drive” is crisp, cool, slick and totally gripping. Brilliant production, an impressively nuanced voice and a focused pen-game, transcend into many different colors and shades of beauty until the very last song. Never sounding forced, rushed, overwhelming or out of her depth, Taylor Tote could literally blow your mind. She is simply one of the most stunning artists I’ve come across in a while.
What’s truly impressive about “21 Min Drive”, is that Taylor Tote manages to showcase her sheer talent and the quality of her music, without any pretentious showboating. Everything sounds infinitely effortless. The songs truly feel like a suite and flow perfectly into each other. There are no limitations to Tote’s abilities and this is almost a statement in this EP, with the singer-songwriter swinging between tracks with faultless precision.
You will find everything on this record. Taylor Tote sublimely dishes out an incredible, and quickly delivered electro dance groove, on the opening track, “Selfish”. Shimmering keys and throbbing basslines meet walls of warm strings, in a track dealing with a friend who is consistently choosing themselves over others, and the frustrating emotions that can arise. Undulating and twisting, the embodiment of constant motion, Tote turns in a stylish performance that’s all mellifluous flow.
“I get a little obsessive. Think I’m being aggressive. I pull back and regret it. Cause you’ll never know,” is how Taylor Tote opens the pop stylings of “Lowkey Stressed”, where her elastic voice is a selling point in itself. Bouncing off tempo and texture changes, Tote investigates the anxiety of relationships, and figuring out how to navigate new feelings. The music arrangement surprised me at every corner, leaving me unexpected of what’s to come next, and it’s refreshing to say the least.
“Atypical” is about finding your confidence, even if you don’t fit into the stereotypical molds of society. It rides on a tight finger-snapping rhythm which allows Taylor Tote to showcase her syncopated vocal licks which sweep effortlessly into a beautifully spaced out chorus. Here is an artist with a vision, and a style that sets her apart from her booty shaking, vocally shrieking contemporaries. Sure, her ambition is everywhere, but it’s never threatening and always entertaining.
“Flawless” features a 25 piece string orchestra, recorded in London, England. Vocally and lyrically, it’s poetic and it’s definitive. The narrative Tote unravels, in this R&B-styled track, takes you into the realms of recognizing internal faults, while maintaining the ability to stay independent. It’s about finding that balance that centers you. Taylor Tote’s vocal nuancing reaches its absolute apex on this track. It’s just gorgeously transcendent here.
In summary, the EP “21 Min Drive” allows Taylor Tote to fluidly cross genre lines, without being questioned. It gives her a hook to hang her prodigious vocal, and interpretive talents, while also shining a bright light on the solid craftsmanship of Russell Hayden. “21 Min Drive” is a feat, an accomplishment. It’s something to be proud of, for all involved.