By Ann Reily
---- — After recording her first album in 1996, Newburyport musician Lynne Taylor needed a break.
“I got really burnt out after my previous solo album,” said Taylor, who is now releasing her second solo CD 17 years later. “I really took a step back. It’s taken me this long to come forward again with my own material.”
This time around, she took a more laid-back approach, spending a year working on “When Lightning Strikes,” which comes out tomorrow.
“I’m just not putting pressure on myself,” she said. “I just wanted to take my time and pay for it as I went. I’m doing it for the sake of doing it.”
A party at the Firehouse Center for the Arts will celebrate the new album and feature performances by Taylor and her band, along with cellist Kristen Miller and Exit Dance Theatre.
A staple on the Newburyport music scene since she moved here in the 1980s, Taylor has played in a number of bands spanning a variety of genres. Today, she is probably most well-known as the standup bassist in Liz Frame and the Kickers.
“I love playing in the Kickers,” Taylor said. “I love playing the bass and working on my bass chops and having fun.”
But her new album takes her back to her roots as a pianist, singer and songwriter.
“Piano is my first and primary instrument,” said Taylor, who has been writing songs since she was a 14-year-old growing up in Kent, Ohio.
“My parents were both musicians,” she said. “I was raised with a lot of protest folk songs. I always believed that the arts and music can be a vehicle for bringing about positive social change and personal transformation.”
Taylor, who has been compared to artists like Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, said she doesn’t set aside certain times to write, she just waits for the mood to strike.
“When I am moved by something, I just feel inspired to write,” she said. “I start with the music. I will play something that is somehow expressing how I’m feeling, and the words will just come.
“A lot of times, I don’t know what the song will be about until I finish it,” she said.
“When Lightning Strikes,” which was recorded in Newburyport at producer Tom Eaton’s studio, Universal Noise Storage, is an eclectic collection.
“Each song on this album is truly its own little story,” Taylor said. “They all have different flavors. Some songs are pretty rocking, some songs are like cello and piano, some songs have a Latin feel.
“The thread that really ties it all together is piano and my voice,” she said. “People tell me I have a really unique and powerful voice.”
Though she can’t really single out a favorite tune, she does point to two “that really seem to move people,” “No Words” and “Pablo’s Glue,” which is the fictional tale of a street urchin.
In addition to Miller, who is featured on the CD, tomorrow’s concert will also include drummer Charlie Farr, guitarists Scott Solsky and Mark Toolan, bass player Ed Passarella, and backup vocalists Nickie Farr and Liz Frame. Veteran singer-songwriter Lucian Parkin will open the show.
“They’re all just incredible musicians,” said Taylor, a River Valley Charter School teacher who is married with two grown daughters and a 2-year-old granddaughter.
Taylor said she is also really looking forward to performing with Exit Dance Theatre, whose dancers will present choreographed pieces to several songs while the band plays them live. Taylor has collaborated with co-founder Fontaine Dubus in the past and said they have been looking for a way to work together again.
“I feel really honored to be able to bring this, something a little fresh and different, to this community that has really supported me and nurtured me,” Taylor said.
If you go
What: Lynne Taylor CD Release Party
When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.
Where: Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport
How much: $15
More information: 978-462-7336 or www.firehouse.org