Sean lets the train take the strain and takes inspiration

Sean Taylor plays Preston's Continental on September 7
Sean Taylor plays Preston's Continental on September 7
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Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Sean Taylor is on his way to Preston’s Continental and odds are he’ll be rolling into town on the rails. ‘Britain’s troubador of the train track’ tells Rachael Clegg it is less a case of getting from A to B and more a source of songwriting inspiration.

If you thought the romanticised railroad was the sole preserve of American artists, think again.

Singer-songwriter Sean Taylor is Britain’s troubadour of the train track, bringing his experiences on the move to his live performances and stunning recordings.

Known as a performer with a social conscience, earlier this year Sean played at a mass picnic and festival organised by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and Justice for Mineworkers to mark the the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike.

Last year he released a special version of You’ll Never Walk Alone and Silent Night, then donated all proceeds to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

Sean, who plays Preston’s Continental on September 7, insists on taking the train everywhere.

“I don’t want to take my driving test,” said the Kilburn 31 year old.

“I enjoy travelling by train, you see so much of life and sometimes you’ll encounter something that will later become a line in a song.”

“I meet a lot of people on trains and have a lot of conversations. It always makes me realise that there is so much out there.”

No surprise, then, that Taylor’s songs are seldom autobiographical.

“I can’t imagine having that much to say about myself that’s of any interest to anyone,” he says.

Instead, armed with pen and paper, Taylor mines his experiences on the rails.

“The journey to the gigs become part of the gigs. And gradually these revelations I have when travelling appear in songs or during the show itself, when I talk to the crowd.”

On his latest – sixth – album Chasing The Night one spoken word track sums up Sean’s approach perfectly.

“It’s about a night out in London, starting off where I live, in Kilburn, then the story travels to Camden, then Brixton, where I was out until very late at night, and then the morning.

“It took me five years to write. It’s funny, you write songs about Europe and other parts of the world but the stuff that’s closest to home is just as rich.”

As a lone ranger, it’s not surprising Sean’s favourite artists are also tale-telling troubadours.

“I love Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Waits is great at throwing in lines that are ambiguous but equally relate to people.”

But Taylor’s not one to shun more universal subject matter either.

“A lot of songwriters write about love and relationships because it happens to us all.

“Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel was about a one night stand, which is pretty brutal but yet there’s a beauty and majesty to his lyrics as well.”

The past couple of years has Sean’s profile on the up, with UK and European tours and festival performances at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections and Port Fairy Folk Festival (Australia).

Now new album Chasing the Night has been heaped with critical acclaim – from Mojo Magazine to the Rochdale Cowboy, Mike Harding.

He has opened for artists such as John Fogerty, Neville Brothers, Tony Joe White, Eric Bibb, Tom Paxton, Tift Merritt and Band Of Horses.

He has toured Holland, Switzerland, Australia, France and Ireland.

Sean Taylor is at Preston’s Continental on Sunday September 7. Tickets are £8 and are available online now from Skiddle, See Tickets and WeGotTickets.