Band: Boy Scouts
Label/Vertrieb: ANTI- Records /Indigo
There is no question too big for Boy Scouts, and no detail too small to be glossed over on the way to an answer. On Wayfinder, the follow-up to the acclaimed 2019 album Free Company, Oakland-based songwriter Taylor Vick chases her queries to the very edge of the horizon. This is an album that's not afraid to track down what it all means -- how life unspools around the monoliths of love and death, the heavy knots of even quotidian conflict, the task of carrying your own suffering with you day after day, the challenge of meeting other people out here in the tangled expanse of living. In a warm, expansive style that recalls the raw punctures of Lucinda Williams and Alex G, Vick once again shows herself to be a fearless seeker shedding light on the unanswerable.
Vick found the title to Wayfinder in Sallie Tisdale's book Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying. The word prompted her reflection on the ways that music has, throughout her life, illuminated the path ahead. "For my whole life, music has been a crucial part of my identity and how I relate to the world," Vick says. "The act of making music has been my wayfinder during the past year."
In the thick of lockdowns, both Vick and longtime collaborator Stephen Steinbrink independently found themselves wanting to work on a new Boy Scouts album. They decided to pursue it despite logistical challenges, traveling up to Anacortes, Washington to record at The Unknown. Working slowly, they invited a roster of collaborators to join them over time, in person and over email, including Vick's brother Travis and Jay Som's Melina Duterte. The effects of working in a new space and with more people can be heard across the bold, assured Wayfinder, which takes place across a wider scale than Vick's prior work. Strands of slide guitar, organ, and strings ring under her affable, expressive voice, bolstering layers and layers of harmony.
In that open setting, Vick's lyrics assume their fullest shape and stage their biggest scenes. Poignant, retrospective love notes like "Charlotte" brush up against songs like the wry, tragicomic "That's Life Honey," a fantasy of engineering a painless existence that takes inspiration from George Saunders' short stories. On "A Lot to Ask," Vick similarly wrestles with the conundrum of having to live in the world among others in all your peculiarities and self-destructive flaws. How can you burn a path to belonging when you can't sit with yourself long enough to light the flame? "I don’t mean to come off like this but / Being myself’s a lot to ask," Vick sings in a signature moment of downplayed self-effacement.
These conflicts don't seize up at the interior; Vick turns them into a lens through which to cast more daunting questions. On "Didn't I," her voice resonates against Steinbrink's harmonies, leavened by strings and organ, as she considers time outside the human lifespan and the mysteries of consciousness and death. Vick wrote the lyrics out of conversations with friends that recently started to orbit these hard-to-plumb topics. "Why are we alive? Is there a point to any of this? Have I done this before? I was thinking about these questions like that, just playing with these ideas and being curious, " she says. "I lost that curiosity for many years, and it came back to me in the last year. I started to wonder about these types of things again. It feels better to have curiosity for life."
These queries can sprout from easy, ponderous conversation just like everyday settings can harbor sudden turns of healing, even growth. On Wayfinder, Vick digs out that potential in even the most ordinary scenes. "Praying to the sidewalk like it holds my fate / Scream into the gutter so it knows my name," she sings on the album's closing track "Model Homes." She hurls her questions at the ground, and they ricochet squarely at the sky, which, in its way, answers.
Band: Boy Scouts
Album: Free Company
Label/Vertrieb: Anti- / Indigo
“Vick had a knack for wrapping wrenching ballads in tender arrangements that foreground her voice in innovative ways.” - NPR Music
“Her music is defined by its warm tenderness—twangy guitars, cooing vocals, supportive keys—but she doesn’t necessarily want to be your caretaker.” – Paste
“Pure bedroom-folk, luring you into finding yourself lost with yesterday’s thoughts, occupied by today’s choices, and captivated by tomorrow’s chances.” - The 405
Posted up at a lemonade-stand-style table, WATCH Taylor Vick of Boy Scouts celebrate her birthday surrounded by friends in the new music video for “Expiration Date”. Her producer Stephen Steinbrink joins her in the clip, contributing harmony vocals to the song; Madeline Kenney (Hand Habits) directed the video.
With its jangly electric guitar chords and sky-high vocal melodies, "Expiration Date" tackles that universal human quandary of impermanence. "Everything changes all the time. Nothing will last forever," says Vick. "It's such a hard concept to grasp because we just get so attached to things and people and situations. But stuff can't stay how it is forever. That's also to be said about bad stuff that happens. It won't weigh you down forever."
Free Company – Vick’s first release for ANTI- Records, set for an August 30th release - is her most vital and incisive work yet, a stunningly tuneful rumination on heartbreak and loss that is always galloping toward the horizon. Her tightest and most cohesive collection of songs, Vick recorded Free Company in a tiny studio that Steinbrink set up inside a rented shipping container--a unique spot that ended up being perfect for her. "It's a windowless little room, but that made me feel really comfortable," she says. "We did it in the comfort of a weird, atypical recording space."
With a keen ear for melody and a palpable sense of empathy, Vick picks apart all the confusing and contradictory ways that people glance off each other while moving through their lives. Her music is an invitation to shake off the weight that's been dragging you down, to lighten your step and keep moving forward no matter what lies ahead.