Following on from 2018’s PURE, Taylor Castro is back with a deeply personal track to explore her darker side and speak frankly about mental health problems which affect people all over the world. First and foremost a storyteller (poems, plays, film scripts, you name it), Castro now uses her platform to take a measured step forward, exploring the emotions she feels in conjunction with her own OCD, and producing a remarkably honest song – ‘Girl, Afraid’, released on the 15th May 2020.
As the vocal line of ‘Girl, Afraid’ begins, you could be forgiven for doing a double take at your speaker. These full-bodied, mature vocals can’t possibly be coming from the baby-faced girl in the pink tutu from the album cover. But the voice that comes from the speakers is anything but naive. Taylor Castro comes across as honest and shrewd on latest release ‘Girl, Afraid’, which sees her finding strength in vulnerability. It’s a significant step forward for the self-defined “Disney Dork” who, up until this point, has seemed to have had the perfect, enviable Florida-based life. Now with this next step in her career, Castro pulls back the curtain to reveal the emotional depths she always had within her – and explores them properly in the public eye for the first time.
‘Girl, Afraid’ marks a significant change in direction from the persona she presented on her debut. “PURE is who I wanted to be without the OCD,” says Castro. “It is still who I am but I wasn’t being totally honest. With the songs on GIRL, AFRAID, I am looking and reflecting on that person.” Of the title track, Castro says, “I had tried to stuff my OCD back down inside me and I didn’t want to write about it. I felt like I wasn’t being true and it was time to address my issues on this record. OCD presents a constant fear and paranoia, so I want ‘Girl, Afraid’ to be a comfort for people who suffer from it as I do.”
It’s her most personal song to date, and an album standout. In less than four minutes, Castro shows off an incredible vocal range and her skill as a songwriter, as well as revealing to us exactly the person she is and always has been. Opening up about her own weaknesses and coming off as a stronger person by the end of the song is no easy feat. But Castro’s vocal performance will silence any doubters who may be listening that she is going to let anyone stop her from telling her story.
This has lead to Taylor partnering with Zach Westerbeck, mental health advocate and speaker. Zach and Taylor have joined together as they both live and cope with OCD every day, and want to use their platforms to spread awareness, smash the stigma and help others realise they are not alone. Similar to how Taylor uses her voice as an artist to advocate, Zach uses his to travel to colleges across the country facilitating his mental health workshop. Together they hope to raise awareness of this mental health issue.
As well received as PURE was, It’s no surprise that Castro didn’t feel ready to tackle such a personal topic on her debut. PURE was an album which marked Castro out as someone of which the music industry was certainly taking note. The album was produced and co-written by “Billboards Producer of the Decade 2000-2010” and four time Grammy winner Rudy Perez (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Natalie Cole), and music producer Willy Perez-Feria (Jon Secada, Charlie Zaa, Roberto Blades). As much as Taylor loved this process, her second offering sees her working more on her own, writing her own songs and lyrics, as if from a journal entry. “I dug much deeper, not just out of growth but out of curiosity,” says Castro. And it has paid off. ‘Girl, Afraid’ sees Castro not only facing her own demons on the track, but also encouraging her fans to do the same, using the hashtags #beaprincessagain and #royalsoul on her Instagram feed to encourage the conversation about mental health to continue and become more normalised.
The beautifully honest ‘Girl, Afraid’ is sure to do the same, dropping everywhere on the 15th May 2020.