A fluffy white mattress. A curled-up cat. The play of morning sunlight on a windowpane. The embrace of a friend. We’re attracted to soft things for excellent reasons: this world is a hard place, and comfort and understanding can be difficult to find. One of the best things we can be for those we love is a refuge. The Arroyo Grande, California singer-songwriter Dulcie Taylor understands the value of sympathy. As her fans know, she’s rocked pretty hard in the past. She’s had tough things to say about interpersonal relationships and our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. But today, in troubled times, she’s offering us “Soft Place to Fall” — and as the tumultuous summer of 2022 nears its end, who among us could turn that down?
Everything about her new single feels like a caress. The melody is gentle and intoxicating, the production foregrounds the irresistible sweetness of Taylor’s voice, the lyrics are pure consolation, the backing vocals have roots deep in gospel, and the drums are as stately as the best and most poised modern Adult Alternative. Yet “Soft Place to Fall” is no exercise in escapism. Taylor always makes it clear that she’s aware of the turmoil surrounding us. “What can you do when the news is worse than the night before?” she asks in the song’s poignant third verse. It’s a question we’ve all been grappling with.
Then there’s the lead guitar: it’s tasteful, lyrical, and harmonically deft, and it’s one of the glittering pillars that supports this unforgettable recording. George Nauful, who co-wrote the song, plays with deep compassion, and, through his performance, he demonstrates his own recognition of the importance of softness. His melodic phrases answer Dulcie Taylor’s; he enters into a conversation with the singer at the outset of the song, and that discussion continues until the last ringing note.
The music video for “Soft Place To Fall” is similarly radiant and welcoming. Dulcie Taylor strums beneath a gorgeous tree at the height of a California summer. She and Nauful are the most genial hosts imaginable. They’re also honest. There’s footage in the clip of unrest on the city streets, the cracking ice shelves, and the wildfires that threaten to consume her beloved home state. But they’re eclipsed by the images of couples spooning in bed, mothers reading to children, and crisp, pristine sheets. There’s still comfort to be had — and that comfort begins with simple acts of care.
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