Well Dressed Spirits lost in Brazil
I tend to listen to all kinds of music, every day of the week, almost all day. That’s why, when some new work really stands out to the point where it catches my eye, I can tell with my expertise that there’s something there… That was more or less the case with Well Dressed Spirits. Besides, of course, the title of the single that literally translates the name of the most famous city in Brazil. And here it must be said that there are not many American songs that refer to Brazil in such a tender way as “January’s river”. The explanation? Frontman Jimmy Taylor works in Brazil, having rotated his time on the Rio-São Paulo axis.
I spend much of my time in São Paulo, but I have visited Rio and know it well. I read a lot about Brazilian history as well. I think I may know it better than USA history.
Jimmy Taylor from Well Dressed Spirits
Well Dressed Spirits’ sound is a result of Jimmy’s collaboration with Producer Michael Briggs of Civil Audio and multi-instrumentalist Mills Chaiken. Drummer Dean Adams, vocalists AM Taylor and Mia Rose Lynne round out the sound of the Well Dressed Spirits, a kind of project that Jimmy has been dreaming of since his early days. “While in college I began writing more seriously and seemed to finally find my singing voice after years of working on it. Some of Well Dressed Spirits songs, including our next single, got started in those early writing sessions”, he says.
Well Dressed Spirits debut single: Rio de Janeiro?
Like the press-release states, the single, “January’s River,” is a folk melody, with strong harmonies and compelling instrumentation all grounded in a story of a man desperate to leave his mark on the world and the price he will pay for his legacy.
I simply loved it. Well Dressed Spirits shall be among the greatest folk-rockers of our time. Phoebe Bridgers, Wilco, Ryan Adams, … Jimmy’s voice is sweet… I just wish I could had such love to describe my own country – cos’ I love USA much more than Brazil…go figure it out…
2 3 Things about Well Dressed Spirits by Jimmy Taylor
RC- Normally, the first works of beginning artists tend to present certain hesitations, sometimes flaws… And that’s not what we see in “January’s river”, which seems to be a well-crafted and highly professional track. Tell us a little about your background as a musician.
WDS – I was raised in a very musical family, my uncle was a country songwriter and recording artist in Nashville, TN in the 90s, my dad seemed to always be playing bass or keyboard and singing in a band when I was growing up and my sister is an extremely talented vocalist. They all worked hard on their craft, however they also were given great natural talent from my grandmother. I was not as lucky in the music gene pool
I began playing guitar at 13 and, despite having no talent for it, insisted on singing as well. I began writing music to sing and play at 16. I played in some bands throughout high school but never very seriously, always insisting on singing. While in college I began writing more seriously and seemed to finally find my singing voice after years of working on it.
Some of Well Dressed Spirits songs, including our next single, got started in those early writing sessions. Though they haven evolved lyrically and musically since their first drafts. After college I began playing open mics and small gigs with my original material and receiving positive feedback which led me to compile some of my songs into an album and create Well Dressed Spirits.
RC- Starting with the title of your single, we can see that you have a sentimental relationship with Brazil. Tell us a little about your memories here, as well as the songs you listened to while you were living in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
WDS- I work in Brazil, so prior to COVID I traveled to Sao Paulo at least one week per month. I had actually planned to move to Sao Paulo for several months, but 1 week into my move COVID became more serious and I had to return home. I have now begun traveling again and look forward to being there at the end of March. One of the biggest projects that I have worked on is in Rio de Janeiro as well so I have a great love for the city.
I really fell in love with Brazilian Indie music during my travels, O Terno is one of my favorite bands now. Anything they do is fantastic to me. All of my friends get annoyed because they get songs stuck in their head they don’t understand from me playing O Terno too much. I also really enjoy Rubel and his song “Partilhar” which I heard a great cover version of when I was in a taxi in Sao Paulo last December. Banda do Mar, Cicero and Van Guart are all excellent as well.
RC- Tell us a bit about the main inspiration to write January’s river. And why the name of the band is Well Dressed Spirits (regarding Taylor Swift’s “Dress”)?
WDS- When I decided I would be living and working in Brazil, I made a firm commitment to learn about the country, its past and its culture. This led me to reading Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling’s Brazil which is a detailed 500+ page book on Brazilian history. The early colonizers of Brazil and the explorers who would traverse the jungles on the way to Minas Gerais and risk their lives, just to try to leave their small mark on the world was very impactful to me. It forced me to reflect on my own life and how I would be remembered. That is where January’s River was born, borrowing the story of early Brazilians to tell my own story.
The name Well Dressed Spirits does owe some credit to Taylor Swift but not for those reasons. My full name is James Taylor, I go by Jimmy, but realizing if I tried to go by James Taylor, James Arthur (my middle name) or use the name Taylor at all, I would be overshadowed initially by some other very talented artists. So, I took a name from one of my songs and repurposed it to serve as a band name.