Cleveland blues musician Taylor Lamborn emerges from pandemic with new band and live acoustic tracks
Taylor Lamborn is documenting a decade of music in her new release "Ten Years: Live & Acoustic."
A blues singer-songwriter who has been actively performing in the region over the years, Lamborn is focused on reaching audiences beyond Northeast Ohio through online channels.
In early 2022, Lamborn began digitally releasing tracks from her new live, acoustic album as a way to honor the last 10 years of her career.
Lamborn reworked some of her older material during the pandemic and recorded the songs as a way to document and finally let go of them.
They show a quieter side of the gritty singer-songwriter and capture the spirit of her live shows through a medium anyone can listen to anywhere, at any time.
“That's what I'm releasing right now, a couple singles at a time,” Lamborn said. “I'm also in the process of trying to record some more full-band stuff and almost like reintroduce myself into the music world because I hibernated a little bit. And now I'm done with hibernation.”
Staring her music career in Northeast Ohio
This year marks a decade since Lamborn moved to Cleveland. She attended the College of Wooster in 2007 and remained in the area for work.
After graduating, she recorded her first album in her spare time.
Lamborn credits her experience in Wooster as having a huge impact on her as a musician.
“I put all my paychecks into recording an album, and I bought a new guitar,” Lamborn said.
After work, she’d spend time at Larry’s Music Center in Wooster and would fiddle around in the acoustic guitar room.
This is where she met Gabriel O’Brien, who had a recording studio in his house. He suggested they work on an album together.
“I found my perfect guitar, and we had our first studio day and it kind of just went from there,” Lamborn said.
She quit her job and decided to focus on starting her career in music.
“I was like, ‘I don't know what I'm going to do, but I have an album now,’ And that's kind of what started everything,” she said.
In her 20s at the time, Lamborn traveled the country to find herself and decide what she wanted to do next.
She ended up back in Cleveland and discovered jam and open-mic nights, where she connected with other musicians.
Brothers Lounge is where she found her legs as a performing artist and got the ball rolling on starting a band.
Getting back on stage
Over the years, Lamborn performed solo acoustic shows and toured by herself through Costa Rica and the Pacific Northwest.
She said recording her live acoustic album has been a way to document what the shows sounded like during that time in her life.
Lamborn formed a band in 2016, but soon after recording an EP together, the group fell apart.
It wasn’t until last year that she put together another group of musicians with hopes of kicking off the next phase of her music career.
Lamborn performed with a full band at Cleveland’s Brite Winter festival in February.
“I don't know if you ever been on a high dive... you run to the end, you freak out and you run back, and you're like, ‘OK, I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.' And I did that for like probably three and a half, four years,” Lamborn said. “And then finally, this year was like, ‘I'm doing it.’”
Lamborn said she never fully stopped performing, but she focused less on branding and promoting herself over the years.
Emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic—which shuttered the music industry and live performances as a whole—was intimidating for Lamborn.
“It's that vulnerability of like saying, ‘I care about this again,’” Lamborn said. “And [in] a more public manner rather than just like in my bathroom mirror, you know?”
Taylor Lamborn returned from two years of "hibernation" in February 2022 to perform with a full band for Cleveland's Brite Winter festival. [Max Arnold]
Letting go of the past
The music Lamborn is releasing in 2022 contains themes and memories she’s been carrying with her over the years.
She said releasing the songs has been a way for her to “get rid” of that weight so she can begin creating more fresh material.
In September 2021, Lamborn turned the entire first floor of her house into a concert venue.
She invited 25 people over for an unamplified performance, which she recorded.
“So, if you could imagine a very full room, everybody was just so quiet and respectful,” she said. “And I just sang through a whole bunch of songs that didn't exist on tape.”
Lamborn said recording studios have been intimidating to her, and the “sterile” environment often doesn’t capture the same energy as performing in front of an audience.
“I've really excelled on stage in small rooms and venues where I can interact,” she said. “And when I get in the studio, I kind of like lock up, and I become more robotic.”
She said she wanted to record this acoustic live album to capture flaws, imperfections and moments that happen only during a live show.
“This is what it sounds like in this moment. It's just a snapshot of this moment,” she said.
I think what the pandemic taught me was that like doing scary things is totally accessible. I have the strength to do it. I can still grow. I can still learn.
Embracing challenges and facing fears
Lamborn said she’ll release about 40 percent of the live acoustic album online.
By the end of summer 2022, she’ll release a physical album with more material included.
Shedding these songs will challenge her to take bigger risks in her music career in the future, she said.
If listeners only hear the acoustic material, she said they’ll miss out on the grittier blues she’s been known for during her decade of touring and performing in front of audiences.
Crowds have recognized Lamborn’s distinct vocal stylings, which are reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, since 2012.
When the world shifted to a virtual existence in 2020, Lamborn realized she didn’t have much of an online presence.
Audiences missed hearing the full scope of the material she’d been writing and releasing over the years.
With this new album, she hopes to let go of the songs she wrote in the past and challenge herself to get back into the recording studio and reintroduce herself to the world.
“I think what the pandemic taught me was that like doing scary things is totally accessible. I have the strength to do it. I can still grow. I can still learn,” Lamborn said.
Hear Lamborn’s live acoustic singles on taylorlamborn.com.