Photos by Jennie McKeon
A place you knew well when you were just a child
Open a book and you’ll be there for a while
— “Happiness Hill”
When I first heard of Gileah Taylor and then later met her, I didn’t listen to her music right away.
In fact, I waited a long time.
Anytime I acquire something new in my life, something I feel fated to love — a cozy sweater, a familiar fragrance or a pink album cover that all but sings itself — I wait for the precisely right moment to enjoy it. You know, the one that doesn’t exist.
I sense how tragically perfect that something is, and I fear I will waste it. I fear it will slip through my fingers as if it were never there in the first place.
“Songs for Late at Night Vol. 2” was a little like that. Meeting Gileah, hearing her soft vocals and seeing the album cover that vaguely resembles the one for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” — I almost felt as if I wasn’t worthy enough to peer into such a beautiful soul.
I couldn’t let myself love it; now I have.
I wanted to make you mine
And when I couldn’t I fell apart
It’s an art — how to seem okay
When the words you think aren’t the words you say
— “It’s an Art”
I tear up a little as I listen, because it means that much to me. The album is a glaring reminder of just how lucky we are to have music, this unparalleled way of expressing ourselves.
All music might resemble poetry, but Gileah’s is otherworldly. The indie singer-songwriter opens the album with “Alec,” singing in a capella, "This is all; I love you. I will blow into your sails." It’s my favorite verse because she breathes life into the moment when you start listening.
From there, Gileah guides you through niches of life and love — being a patient lover, standing by a troubling relationship and the passage of time. Gileah’s website bio describes her as “part songbird and part ghost-hunter,” and that feels right.
Her music is never abrasive. Although passionate, it never forces itself on the listener. Each song feels like stepping into one of Gileah's dreams — ethereal, yet often heartbreaking.
The lyrics with which I most connect are to “I’ll Be a Mountain.”
My heart is fixed here
I will not move, dear
You’ve walked a great, lonely land
I have not tried to turn your hand
— “I’ll Be a Mountain"
While I wait for the right moments to slip on new jeans, speak new words or experience new things without fear, I’ll cling to the lyrics of “Songs for Late at Night Vol. 2” playing it late at night on my turntable or in my portable cassette player.
Oh, Gileah, the world isn’t worthy.
I hope it hasn’t disappointed you; I hope I haven’t. By the way, outside of this photo shoot, I still haven’t worn this sweater. If anyone would understand, it’s you.
More on Gileah:
“Songs for Late at Night Vol. 2” was recorded with producer Jeremy S.H. Griffith in Fort Walton Beach. It was released in June 2016. The writer and poet George Macdonald inspired the lyrics.
“Going Home,” a track from this record, was featured on season 1, episode 2 of the Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why.”
Gileah Taylor released the dream pop EP “Till We’re Through” on Sept. 22. It’s available for purchase at cdbaby.
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.