Afterword to the Greenpointers article on Megan Talay…
Hearing Megan Talay live, it’s surprising to know that she was once shy about singing. She sounds like Bonnie Raitt, her voice lively and springy. Before they begin, she and her band members bring their hands in, stacking them one on top of another like they’re on a sports team: Paul Maddison on bass, Kenny Shaw on drums (straight off the plane from Australia where he was playing with Dispatch), and Greg Mayo on guitar. As they break, her band members yell, “happy birthday, Megan!”
She strums the intro of “Light the Way” with her back to the packed audience at Pete’s Candy Store, then turning, she sings, “He said, “I think you were dreamin hard last night / Yeah, I saw you shifting around in your sleep” / But I said, “I’m always dreamin hard.. you know, it’s alright- I’m never free / No I am never free.” Her entire set is filled with melodies and brimming lyrics that move and hook you. Although her music doesn’t always follow the usual verse-chorus structure, her lyrics are so memorable that by the time you hear the chorus for sometimes the second and final time, you’re singing along with her.
Halfway through the set, Talay sings “Forever in my Hand.” As context, she recounts when she entered a songwriting competition with this song during her sophomore year at the University of Miami. Livingston Taylor was a judge. “After I played, he said ‘at first, I thought, you got alotta lyrics here. You got enough lyrics here for three songs. When I heard you singing, it all had a thread and you made it work somehow. You’re a little pitchy, but you’ve got fantastic lyrics here and you don’t want them to get lost.'” If Taylor had heard Talay at Pete’s, he wouldn’t call her pitchy anymore. “He was encouraging me to speak-sing them. It was encouraging in a funny sort of way,” she says.
It was a celebratory night, with her band members giving her a present on stage (a Mr. Potato Head), a dedication to her twin sister, Katie, (Blink 182’s “What’s My Age Again?,” during which Katie joined her to sing “Nobody likes you when you’re 23”), and friends, Beth Callen and Joanna Levine (Pinkwing) on guitar and vocals respectively, joining her for the cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” The highlight was her killing it on her guitar solo as she performed her final song, “Miami Take Me Home.” When the set was over, the audience chanted “one more, one more, one more,” but her time was up. To quote what she said at the beginning of her set, “Greg and I finished working on my first EP. If you like what you hear, get on my mailing list and we can hang out and be lovers.” No further guidance required.