His latest release was an EP called “Everything We Are”, which already showed a slight change from his personal style of likeable mix of pop/rock. Influences coming from rock & roll, powerpop and even some slight angles from grunge and blues saw the light in his newer songs. This new adventure opened even more doors for the enigmatic musician and he continues to discover his strengths down this path on his brand new EP “LiVES” which is accompanied by a short novel, co-written by Gil Gonzalez.
The story tells us about the lives of Cate & Max and is well-written and the passionate and lively story will speak to people from all ages and roots. It connects with the reader, and Taglieri is very able to provide that same intense and personal connection on the new EP.
“LiVES” is filled with strong songs that range between rock & roll influenced powerpop and some gentler, emotionally laden melodies. The balance of the EP is carefully provided, yet sounds absolutely natural and proves that Taglieri is not only a gifted musician but also has a keen eye on how to produce his music. The EP perfectly complements the story and vice versa. It’s a new chapter in the artistic life of John Taglieri, and while this new venture is no doubt going to be a success it will be followed by a part 2 and 3 and even 4. Even after this short while I can say that I’m eagerly awaiting the continuation of “LiVES”. Because if I wasn’t hooked on John Taglieri’s music yet, this new EP definitely convinced me.
The EP starts with a carnivalesque intro that sets up for the first real track, Ferris Wheel which musically accompanies the first chapter of the story, in which we get to know Max Knight, son of an army colonel. The young man spots a ferris wheel and decides to take it for a spin. Taglieri perfectly fills up these mental images with an infectious tune and sharp, edgy vocals. The slightly alternative and powerful rock & roll song is remarkably different from John’s previous releases, as it’s harder and edgier. The chorus speaks of going ’round and ’round and ’round which can be linked to the story again, as it symbolizes not only the ferris wheel but the way Max sees his own life’s story. While the pointy electric guitar and energetic chorus give the song a certain feel of anger, or maybe frustration would be a better description, there’s a subtle gentleness if you listen/read between the lines. With Ferris Wheel, “LiVES” is off to a strong start.
Next up is Breathe. This potential college radio hit song tells us about Cate Alston and the struggles in her lives. The song is a little smoother and doesn’t portray the same amount of frustration that appeared in the opening track, but the underlying, lingering feelings of losing grip and going back and forth in the same cycle shows a parallel with Ferris Wheel and symbolizes the bond of kindred spirits that can be seen between Max & Cate. The song itself is uptempo and John Taglieri’s enigmatic vocals literally breathe life into the song. It’s a song that thrives on its sentiment and fits its main character like a glove.
The next chapter and thus the next song is called Make A Mistake With Me. After reading the chapter, which I could completely relate to, as there are strong parallels with my own life, I was reminded of a song by Acceptance, probably one of their best known songs, Different. There’s a line in the song that goes like: “I’m taking a chance, this could be different, this could be all I’m waiting for.” If you change the I-person into a we-people perspective, it perfectly portrays the imagery and intense feeling that the chapter leaves you with. And Taglieri, with perhaps his most commercially attractive effort on this EP, recreates that sentiment in his own distinctive way. From the pounding drums to the powerful and catchy chorus, the song is a highspeed energy-train that delves into the doubts, questions, insecurities and risks that are part of an adventure called life. The slightly grungy vocals give this energetic powerpop song extra body and with a passionate performance, John Taglieri nailed it on this one.
While The Lives of Splattered Flies might sound random to you, it makes a lot of sense to me. Having been on my own cross-country roadtrip I can see that image before me in an instant. Both the song and the chapter take me back to the countless memories, mostly good, but some bittersweet that are part of such a big undertaking. The mix of spontaneous adventure and rigid planning that gets tossed overboard when you realize it’s more about the two of you than the trip itself, or at least, that is what you realize later on. The song is catchy and song with a lot of soul and spirit. John’s always been influenced by bands like Sister Hazel, and I’ve always heard a little Nine Days-like powerpop in his music. If you listen carefully you can still hear that in this song, but the more edgy, rock & roll influences take the foreground even more and both are coming together in a perfect mix of musical styles in The Lives of Splattered Flies.
With You I Want To Be sounds sugar sweet, but the song might surprise you as it has a bit of a haunting and at times a bit of an eerie sound. “It’s like we’re running in an endless circle”, sings Taglieri, which feeds back to the symbolism of the first two songs, but also explores the longing for something better, something that’s so close yet so far. It symbolizes the continues struggles of the two main characters, struggles with themselves but projected on each other, putting a strain on what’s happening. Everyone can relate to the feeling of wanting something good, something better, like it used to be. We all feel melancholic or nostalgic at times and this song paints that picture in a way only John Taglieri can. Without a doubt the strongest piece of music on this EP. The mix of storytelling and emotional attachment in the music and especially in the passionate vocals shows you the sheer talent of John Taglieri.
Taglieri ends his EP with the song suitably titled Farewell, and while this is the end of the book, it still only marks the beginning of the story. Also the song has a very definitive title, but doesn’t mark a definitive end at all. While sadness and regret and goodbyes are all part of the message, there’s also a linger of hope and in the distance the light of love is still shining. “And I’ll have a beer and you have two shots of tequila” (refers to an earlier chapter in the book) “we both raise our glass to the next time I see ya” perfectly looks back at the past and makes room for a look into a possible future. So while a goodbye has arrived, hope is not lost, like hope is never lost. And that’s exactly a message that can be personified with Taglieri, as it has always been the honesty of his words and music that speaks to the listener. Words of love, hope, believing, trust, overcoming obstacles and never giving up are a recurring theme in his music. The positive thoughts that his music thrives on are values that everyone can relate to and values that define Taglieri as a musician and a person. When Farewell comes to an end, an epilogue ties up any possible loose ends.
John Taglieri reinvents himself and his music on the new EP “LiVES” and does so successfully. The EP/book combo is creative and works well as Taglieri has always been a great storyteller. The story told in the book and on the EP is one, most of all, of hope and the prospect of love but also of the long, and at times very tough, road towards it. And the fact that it’s only the first part in a quadrilogy makes me exciting to see what’s next. “LiVES” is a new chapter in the artistic life of John Taglieri, and one that will leave a mark on those who choose to embrace it. I will leave you to experience “LiVES” for yourself. Just trust me when I say that the journey will take you to places, both within yourself and in the outside world, that you will cherish for a long time to come.
For more information, please check TheLivesProject.com