Show Reviews

Show Review: Taylor Borton, Brandon Scott, Trinity Mei, & Kyle Whittaker

 

Taylor Borton, Brandon Scott, Trinity Mei, & Kyle Whittaker

Friday June 17, 2022

@ The Commodore Grille in Nashville, TN

(Review by: Jeffrey Kurtis)

The Commodore Grille, located on West End Avenue in the heart of Vanderbilt country, has a longstanding relationship within the Music City songwriting community as being a stage where young songwriters are considered family and are welcomed with opened arms as they test out their newest material, perfect the original standbys that have become their cataloged favorites, and develop as songwriters by not only playing in front of a fully invested crowd, but by also being in front of (and sharing the stage with) fellow songwriters who are all strong champions of one another.

Sadly, it's not too often that our usually packed schedule will allow us the opportunity to be at a songwriter round, but we certainly understand their importance to Nashville as songwriters are the life blood of this town and they all uphold the very foundational idea that “it all begins with a song!”

When we first caught Taylor Borton performing a few weeks ago, she unexpectedly blew us away with her amazing songwriting, the comfort level she carried throughout her performance, her outstanding vocals, and all-around onstage energy and personality.

We were so glad then, that when we got the invite for her songwriter round on this particular Friday night, our schedules just so happened to be free, so that we were able to take a seat right in line with the center of the stage to watch Borton at the legendary Commodore Grille alongside Brandon Scott, Trinity Mei, and Kyle Whittaker.

Kyle Whittaker kicked off each of the three rounds with his storytelling, country style that pulled dusty honky-tonk vibes into his gravelly voice as he praised his wife on “Blew Me Away” to open the show, but really nailed his performance and had the audience quieting down as they turned their seats toward him when he played “Trying.”

With all eyes (and ears) now 100% focused on him, Whittaker used the natural drawl in his voice to capture the emotionally charged lyrics as he sang us through the tribulations of figuring himself out and trying to make all the right changes in his life as he confessed that while he’s working hard at it, he admittedly isn’t where he wants to be yet.

Trinity Mei, an Arizona native originally, who was in town between her freshmen and sophomore years at Berkley School of Music in Boston, brought her indie folk blended singer-songwriter vibe to the stage as she bounced it into pop territory at times with songs such as “More Time” and “Little Things.”

However, as was the case with Kyle Whittaker, it was her second song of the night that delivered the knock-out to the crowd when she performed “Ever Be Right,” which before playing she taught the patrons on hand where to sing-along which they then aptly did, bringing a smile to Mei’s face as they became part of the show alongside her.  

Brandon Scott, who we also saw performing with Taylor Borton the first night that we caught her a few weeks back, brought his Christian branded R&B style to the stage, which he dripped with undeniable soulful flavor.

“This first one is dedicated to my wife,” introduced Scott as he opened with “I Promise,” an absolutely beautiful song that allowed his stellar voice to flow fluidly over the softer pace as he not only spelled out the promises that he made to his wife, but also those that were made to God as he and his bride joined as one in marriage.

While he hit a falsetto during “Thank You” that impressed the crowd, Scott also delivered a pin dropping moment within this song as it sang out like an open prayer of gratitude to God for all that He’s given to him which no doubt acting as a transformation moment for many in the crowd, before he closed out with the appropriately titled, “Good Night.”

Playing two new songs in many ways can be nerve-wracking for a songwriter, but when they’re delivered in such strong ways, there’s also an overwhelming confidence that exudes from the stage and transcends over the audience. This is exactly how Taylor Borton opened her set to immediately captivate the crowd.

Backed by tremendous lyrics and her stellar delivery that saw her nearly crying out in the chorus, Borton took us straight into the conflicting emotions of falling in love while also building a wall of protection around you with her opening song “Loving When It’s Leaving,” during which she hit transparently on how once she’s finally found the balance enough to let him in, it’s already too late as she’s pushed him away.

Dipping more into her folk infused side, Borton then began to take us on her autobiographical journey to Nashville through song, which started with “Life Ain’t Fair,” the second of her two new songs that saw her very openly sharing the highs and lows, the wins and losses, and the triumphs in the struggles, all while skillfully crafting her words in such a poignant way that they invited the crowd to connect their own story with hers.

Strapping on her harmonica for her performance of “Native,” a song she’s stated to be a personal favorite, allowed Taylor Borton to reveal another layer of her incredible talent as she continued to tell her Nashville story, sharing the trials and tribulations of navigating Music City as a songwriter who is finding their footing and discovering the place that they belong in an overcrowded, often unforgiving music scene.

In an unexpected surprise, after the round had come to an initial close with Brandon Scott’s “Good Night,” Taylor Borton was then asked by her fellow songwriters to play “Tennessee,” the ultra-catchy, hometown praising song that acted as the final piece to capping off the journey she had been laying out over the previous two songs she played as she boldly sang of chasing her dreams from Youngstown, OH to Nashville, but never allowing herself to lose sight of who she is and where she comes from.

Storytelling is such an important part of songwriting in Nashville, but when you can deliver songs that play out your story the way that Taylor Borton did, you’re not only introducing your music to an audience, but you’re also giving them glimpses into who you are which becomes the key factor to sustaining a strong following as they can then connect with your story on a level that digs deeper than just the surface.  

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