ELDERSBURG — He plays a Stratocaster guitar like Buddy Holly, and he sings like Bob Dylan.
Spotlight, please, on Richard L. Taylor, a 38-year-old musician recently honored by Maryland Musician magazine for the No. 1 Mid-Atlantic Album of 1990.
"I heard the magazine was coming out, and I got it and was flipping through it, and there it was," Taylor said. "I was really surprised. To be included in the Top-10 list and be No. 1 is incredible."
The album, "Beyond Vanity," contains 12 original songs by Taylor, each one different from the next.
"I like a nice variety," Taylor said. "I don't like having the same style of songs on an album, so you won't get bored with it."
If you're wondering why you may never have heard Taylor or his album on the airwaves, it's because he and his band, The Ravers, play mostly at clubs in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Taylor said some of the songs from the album have gotten air play on WHFS, a progressive station in Landover; WCVT, Towson State University's radio station; and DC-101, a Washington rock station. He said a Kentucky radio station did call him to say "Beyond Vanity" was on its play list.
So, what's the album like?
"There's a lot of roots influence in it, especially '50s and '60s, but with a modern sound," he said, noting that many who hear the album say he sounds likeDylan.
"I love Dylan, he's great. He's definitely a big influence," Taylor said.
The songwriter/musician did much of the work on the album, from the mixing of the songs and picking the musicians to the album cover.
"When the reviews come out and somebody says they like it, it's a nice feeling," he said.
The reviewers have been more than just nice to "Beyond Vanity." Maryland Musician magazine said the album "manages to do what it takes the Time-Life rock 'n' roll series volumes to accomplish."
And The Washington Post noted Taylor offers "Rockabilly, R & B, 'conscious folk,' electric slide and amplified acoustic" and called the album "hugely likable."
"Beyond Vanity" is Taylor's fifth album in the last eight years. All have been onsmall, independent record labels, this latest on Run Wild Records out of Alexandria, Va.
Although he prefers the small, independent companies, Taylor also is trying to sell his music in Europe, where, hesays, there is a market for the "undiscovered" American artist.
"They like independent music over there," he said. "They're very receptive to unknown American music, especially if they can take it and establish it."
Of course, a larger record company might help him sell more records. He said he would probably sign with one if offered a contract.
But the major recording companies frighten him a bit, hesaid.
"The big companies can chew you up and spit you out," he said, adding they also don't leave enough room sometimes for the artist's input.
"I'm more interested in having the product sound good than in getting a big advance," he said.
A carpenter on the side, Taylor joked that he "thinks music full time, but only earns part time"from it.
The music bug bit him when he was 14, he said, and hasn't let go. His repertoire includes 150 to 200 songs, many unfinished, that he works on during "dry" spells.
How do you write a song?
"It works both ways," he said. "Sometimes I write the lyrics, then the music, or the other way around. When you get good lyrics and a nicemelody line, it's a good feeling."
Most of all, he said, a song is something "that comes from within, from the heart -- it's that soulkind of thing."
Not all songs are accepted, of course. He also has a collection of rejection slips. But no matter how high they pile, Taylor insisted he'll always write his music.
"It's just part of me," he said.