Sean Taylor at The Green Note, Camden
**** (out of five)
KILBURN blues troubadour Sean Taylor is softly-spoken and easy-going but Sean Taylor the performer reveals a smouldering intensity which hints at hidden fury.
Taylor was in playful mood at his sold out London gig at Camden’s Green Note, and clearly happy to be on home turf, “I got the bus here!” he announced. Coasting through 20 songs swathed in guitar wizardry, he carried listeners along like a locomotive on a Texas railroad.
The set showcased new material from his forthcoming album which he has again chosen to record in Austin, Texas, with producer Mark Hallman, and includes the stellar eponymous track The Only Good Addiction Is Love.
Taylor’s unique blues guitar style first brought him to the attention of critics, hailed by Radio 2’s Bob Harris as ''reminiscent of John Martyn".
The intimate Camden venue slightly encumbers his usually big layered guitar sound, but it’s big enough, tempered by brooding violin from Hana Piranha. Never a powerhouse vocalist, his voice sounded stronger and older, fully suited to his version of the blues and insightful lyrics which earn pin-drop silence.
Taylor’s vocal sits particularly sweetly with sparse violin on a stripped-back Perfect Candlelight, while a pulsing So Fine is a highlight.
Influences like Tom Waits, Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones remain unmistakeable, but Taylor confesses to the crowd that he was a bit of a raver in his younger years, opting to see Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx at his first ever festival, Glastonbury.
Big themes of love, death, peace and injustice infuse Taylor’s songs. Taylor the revolutionary throws in some rousing harmonica on Stand Up, dedicated to the anti-austerity movements. A storming cover of Richie Havens’ Freedom maintains the revolutionary spirit.
Telling the crowd “I’m gonna turn arty now”, he delivers aspoken-word piece about his beloved London, River, showing off his contrasting London-Irish rapper vibe and lyrical skills and conjuring up a neon world of “lost souls” and “night-bus temptations”.
Other covers included Merle Travis’ Sixteen Tons, and an encore of Billie Holiday’s Ain't Nobody's Business, unrecognisable after the Taylor treatment. A happy crowd tumble into the Camden night, feeling that this gig and artist are very much a London creation.
Sean Taylor’s UK tour continues with dates from April 1 at Sevenoaks, Kent to June 20 at Barry, Wales.