When new Rocketown Records' artist Taylor Sorensen refers to common themes such as love, revolution or rock 'n' roll, he has anything but their common definitions in mind. The 23-year-old rock singer cuts through the surface to find the true significance of such often-cheapened words. It is this naïve, unfaltering belief in the timeless that makes his thoroughly modern music stand out to audiences fortunate enough to hear it.
Sorensen's full-length debut, The Overflow (a follow-up to the aptly titled October 2003 EP, The Fill), is an impressive 11-song display of why this Adrian, Mich. native has developed an adoring following. "My music is about love, the love that let the nails go through the hands of Jesus," Sorensen says. "That love applies to a kiss or to serving in an AIDS-stricken country or to playing music. It's a love that makes these things holy, that makes them sacred, that makes them the gospel. It's a love that's revolutionary because the gospel is revolutionary."
Growing up in a farming community outside of Ann Arbor, Sorensen says music was always a part of his life, and he can even recall writing his first song, "Get on the Right Track," at eight years of age on his Casio keyboard. The recent Belmont University graduate (with a degree in Religious Studies) has spent the past several years playing clubs and colleges throughout the Midwest with his band, The Free Doves. He has also opened concerts for a wide range of artists including dc Talk, Eddie Money and Asleep at the Wheel. In 2003, he landed the slot before the Newsboys on AtlantaFest's main stage and also appeared in Orlando at Rock the Universe.
The title for The Overflow comes from a statement by John Piper in his book, Desiring God: "Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others." Taylor explains, "That kind of love is an active love, a love in motion. In America there is a huge distortion of love and what the word really means. I think there are more than 320 verses in the New Testament alone that talk about love, and the great majority of those use verbs right before the word love. The most popular verse in the world is John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.' He did something about it—He gave. He bent over backwards to meet our needs, and that's doing love."
The album's first single, "Love Somebody Else," opens The Overflow by emphasizing that very message. "It really sets you up for the entire album. One of the greatest ways we can show our love for God is by loving His children. That's why Christ says, 'Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me.' And He says 'do' … do love. Don't just speak love. Do love means cleaning floors for an elderly friend or heading off to Africa to work in orphanages. The emphasis is on the doing. 'Love Somebody Else' is my song to tell the world what I'm about. We've got to get active, especially the church, or there's a whole world that's going down the drain."
Musically, the songs on both The Fill EP and the full-length The Overflow are best described as "reformed American rock with a European soul." With influences that include U2 and Bruce Springsteen alongside the modern production aesthetics of bands such as Coldplay and U.K. pop trio Doves, Taylor brings a vital, singular voice to modern music. As his influences suggest, this music is the kind that evokes visions of packed arenas and the kind of unabashed emotion that is missing in today's landscape.
Produced by Dave Perkins (Over The Rhine, Chagall Guevara) and the production team of Sam Ashworth, Taylor Harris and Matt Slocum (Sixpence None the Richer), the songs on The Overflow range from the anthemic "Love Somebody Else" to the elegant and emotive grandeur of "Red Fone" to the hook-laden love song, "Upside." Also, Sixpence's Leigh Nash provides guest vocals on "World Keeps on Spinning," a song to encourage the beat-up and downtrodden to keep going because home is just around the corner.
And the album itself is just a taste of the emotion and energy found in Taylor Sorensen's impassioned live shows with The Free Doves. Onstage, Taylor and his band reveal the kind of heart-on-a-sleeve passion that has the added value of deeply insightful lyrics to accompany the visceral thrill of the songs. His performances have the same zeal and energy in front of 50 as they do in front of 5,000, and audiences leave knowing they've seen a band giving its all. But Taylor says he won't be satisfied with just entertaining—his hope is for the music to inspire true love, a love that serves others.
"More than anything, I hope The Overflow spurs anyone who hears it go do something. I'm not naïve enough to believe that's going to happen with everyone. But if this record causes just one person to go shovel the driveway of a disabled neighbor—to go do love—then it's not in vain."