Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - Let's Leave This TownChip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - The Trouble with Humans

Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Let's Leave This Town

(Lone Star)

Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
The Trouble with Humans

(Lone Star)

First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12

Written by T.J. Simon

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Chip Taylor is the younger brother of actor Jon Voight, which makes him the uncle of Angelina Jolie and the ex-uncle-in-law of Billy Bob Thorton. He is also a gazillionaire from writing hit songs for other people, most notably Wild Thing (recorded by The Troggs, et al.) and Angel of the Morning (recorded by Juice Newton and Shaggy). At the 2001 South-by-Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, the 63-year-old Taylor met a young fiddler named Carrie Rodriguez, a woman with a classic country voice and the ability to make magic with her violin. Taylor hired her as an accompanist on his subsequent European tour, which inspired him to whip up some country duets in the tradition of John Prineís In Spite of Ourselves. And two albums later, they continue to be an unlikely dynamic duo.

The appeal of the collaborations between Taylor and Rodriguez is the dichotomy of their vocal styles. Rodriguez sounds young and vibrant with a voice reminiscent of Kasey Chambers or a perky Lucinda Williams. Taylor, on the other hand, sounds old and weary (in a good way) with a voice somewhere between Willie Nelson and John Prine. Their first joint release Letís Leave This Town kicks off with Sweet Tequila Blues, the first of a dozen affectionate country duets. The lyrics crafted by Taylor feature a nice back and forth cadence that, while sung, carry a conversational tone, and the strength of Taylorís songwriting is counterbalanced perfectly by Rodriguezís virtuoso fiddling. Her classically-trained violin adds heft to Taylorís straightforward compositions including the jaunty Extra and the Celtic instrumental Midnight on the Water. The generational difference between the two must have presented a lyrical challenge to Taylor who succeeds in keeping the tone of his lyrics playful, affectionate, and bittersweet rather than tawdry and leering. All in all, Letís Leave This Town proves to be a thoroughly enjoyable release.

The duoís 2003 follow-up The Trouble with Humans features more of the same quality stuff heard on the its collaborative debut. This time around the songs are a little sadder and uniform in cadence, but they are no less stellar. From the sweetly somber opening track Donít Speak in English to the mid-tempo Oh Ireland, Taylorís lyrics capture everything thatís good about American country music. Thereís still not a bad song on the album although a couple of the ballads have a bit of trouble getting off the ground, particularly the title track and I Need a Wall. The disc ends with a comical hidden cut criticizing the current state of affairs in the music industry proving that even when goofing off, Taylor and Rodriguez sound better than many artistsí most valiant efforts.

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Let's Leave This Town ó starstarstarstar

The Trouble with Humans ó starstarstarstar

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Let's Leave This Town is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

The Trouble with Humans is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2003 The Music Box