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Ayo River is a musical project whose songs are directly aimed at millennials. Weston Taylor, the singer/songwriter behind this moniker, teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Matt Martin to craft his debut album, Failed State. The 11-track record depicts the journeys and personal tales of Taylor, a teacher at an Atlanta music school. In his freshman year of college in Athens, GA, he wanted to become a rapper. When Lil Wayne was serving time in prison at Rikers Island, Weston mailed him pages and pages of lyrics. He never saw a reply.
After advice from his friends that it wasn’t working out for him, Weston put the music he hoped to make behind him. He took on creative writing as an emotional outlet. After securing his teaching position, he rediscovered pop music through the eyes of his young students. From there, he knew what he wanted to set out to do hence the fruition of Failed State.
The first LP from Ayo River overflows with nostalgia, but is starkly contemporary too. The lyrics range from Tinder, turning 25, feeling old and confused. It’s all delicately wrapped up in this coming of age tale. The miscommunications through modern technology and social media are embedded within the inner seams of the indie-pop songs. As one becomes invested with Failed State, they will hear the jovial overlay with most of these tracks. With many things in life, when you search for something deeper over the glossy surface, you reveal the truth. That truth isn’t what you may have envisioned to uncover either. There are choices and chances ready to be decided, all unbeknownst on the way it will turn out.
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Opening track ‘Porcelain’ simmers with a foreboding first half. There’s a slight eruption into something much brighter and more welcoming after that. The song finishes with the lyrics, It’s becoming clear to me/I am different people with different company/no two versions the same/so I’m when all alone don’t know what to do. After it is concluded, there is a sense of understanding established. The words expressed couldn’t be more proper for many individuals in their 20s. The ones navigating uncharted territories, swimming through the raucous tides with head barely above treacherous waters.
‘Mercedes’ is relevant and harrowing as one tries to awaken from sleepwalking through their life. With the songs on Failed State, one senses change that needs to be made within their own trajectory. You come to a point where it is no longer a choice, but a necessity to move on with yourself from occupying the same spot you have been for far too long. ‘Waking Up’ is akin to something off a Death Cab For Cutie album. This sweeping indie-pop jam is utterly reflective and intimate. All dreams must fade, all dreams must go is all too relevant and something most of us do not want to recognize. There’s an instance when this finally becomes a dark reality. It’s a reminder that lost time can never be found. If you aim at nothing, you will hit the bull’s-eye every time.
’11 Likes’ features the boldest of lyrics, I don’t want to lose something so hard to find. Youthfulness fades quickly, desires change rapidly, and love seems like a foreign concept in today’s world for those transitioning from college to the workforce, from one job to the next position, and from one relationship to the next (or lack of one). These common things in life are dealt with by many of us, but the weight of them seems heavier now than ever before in the history of talking about them.
The title track concludes the record in a beautifully simple and refreshing way reminding us that the love you see on television can’t be replicated. A yearning for a girl like Topanga on beloved 90s television show, ‘Boy Meets World’ is merely a concept that can’t be reproduced. Something’s gotta change/From the failed state tears through the listener as if you spoke those very same words in front of a mirror.
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Ayo River’s Failed State is a journey within and a journey without. It’s Taylor’s voyage through the wreckage of life’s trials and tribulations, but it’s nothing remotely different than the one his listeners may have encountered along their own path. The roads for most are in many ways parallel to one another. Sometimes they run perpendicular and therefore connections and relationships are made. We may desire various intangible things, but the destination on the terms of an emotion, is quite often similar.
Failed State is that indie movie you discover one day in a mostly vacant theatre. It’s a special feeling because not too many know about it. You connect with it in ways that aren’t essentially radical by any stretch, but you leave the darken room and see the light within a reflection of yourself. You stop to realize this tiresome search to find the light was within you the entire time. All it took was that one distinguishing moment of its arrival.
Failed State is out on August 18th, 2017. The albums track-listing is as follows…
04. White Dress
05. Porches + Patios
06. Waking Up
07. 11 Likes
08. Tantrum pt. i
09. Tantrum pt. ii
11. Failed State