by Allison Kinney
Taylor Vick (Boy Scouts)’s most recent record, Wayfinder (Oct 1), was recorded over lockdown last year and is propelled by a questing curiosity. “I don’t have the answers / I have memories / sitting by the gutter / discussing eternity,” she sings on “Didn’t I.” Not having the answers doesn’t make the quest fruitless – the questions themselves can lead us into intimacy. “I always wonder what you find / whenever you close both of your eyes,” Vick muses on “Lighter.” One of the thickest mysteries: what is it like to be you? Wayfinder is guided by this search — not toward definitive answers, but toward honesty.
Taking a closer look at the lyrics of Wayfinder is surprising – they seem so spare and delicate, but they are the scaffolding for whole stories. Vick links abstract actions with concrete details in a way that invests everyday objects with existential significance. On “I Get High,” she sings “I exist / and I exert / I need a kiss / and some dessert.” She gives both precise, intriguing detail and space for the listener to wonder. The songs bloom in the imagination into their own little worlds.
There’s great variety in the instrumental atmosphere of the tracks on this record – each song feels like its own room, or maybe its own stop on a road trip. The arrangements are both spacious and intimate. The music video for “That’s Life Honey” gives a visual representation of this feeling: the intimacy of a small boat on the vastness of an ocean.
Vick’s fascinating voice holds the variety of the album together. Her lead vocals run into rough edges, and catch on the brink of opening up. They can sound hesitant, like a friend who trusts you enough to tell you something she’s not sure she’s ready to tell anybody. But on the harmonies, she soars and glides, sometimes alongside her friend Stephen Steinbrink and brother Travis. When Vick and I spoke on the phone, she explained that singing was her “first love in the music realm.”
“I’d sing mostly pop music when I was really little in the bedroom,” she reflects. Another early influence was country. The music of The Chicks and Martina McBride opened the door to inspiring her “as a young person, a young queer person even, to write my own songs and tell my own stories.”
“It really ignited this fascination in me with the experience of being moved by art,” Vick adds. “I’ve been thinking about that recently, how still to this day I’m super fascinated by the experience of allowing something to move you in a really intense emotional way, and I think I have a lot of country music to give credit to for that experience.”
She seems to have been thinking about storytelling particularly on this newest album.
“I think a lot, probably 80% of the songs on this new record are pretty personal to me – I’m the narrator, often,” she notes of her music. “But I did try to experiment with taking inspiration from a thought or a situation, but trying to fictionalize it. That’s something that’s pretty new for me but I do enjoy it, because sometimes it can just be more interesting…when there’s less of a personal attachment.”
The narratives that encompass the album circle around her own perspective, but are tweaked to create some space from her own frame of reference. “I tried a little bit this time around to add a little spin,” she explains. “Just to create a little more distance from my emotional connection to a song.”
“Ideally in the songwriting experience I’m kind of shutting off my analytical mind, and trying to be as open as possible and let any and all ideas come through,” she notes. “It’s really a practice of being present for me.”
What results across Wayfinder are a series of intimate lenses informed by real experiences but guided primarily by emotional truths. Creating such personal songs, says Vick, can “feel very cathartic, and be a really lovely way to process something.” Songwriting has provided her with a way to “take a negative experience or emotion and try to make something good out of it” — something she describes as “transmuting that [pain] into a creative invention.”
You can find Wayfinder, and the rest of Boy Scouts’ music, here.
Allison Kinney studies literature at the University of Virginia.