First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3
Written by John Metzger
Long ago, after releasing the classic folk-rock albums Sweet Baby James and Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, James Taylor began a slow descent into mediocrity. Each subsequent release was pleasing, but the albums also didn't stray far from the original seeds that he had planted.
Every few years over the course of the past decade, Taylor like clockwork has recorded a television special, released a new album, and hit the road for an amphitheatre tour. Throughout these excursions, he also has been quietly making a songwriting comeback.
His tunes still ride upon the graceful melodies that he croons in his soothing voice, and his lyrics remain firmly entrenched in a state of quiet introspection. However, on Hourglass, Taylor sounds more relaxed and confident, and his songs seem more focused and less forced. Consequently, this is Taylor's best album in years, and while it doesn't break any new ground, it also won't disappoint fans of his early classic albums. In addition, Hourglass is an enhanced CD that contains a video interview and several performance outtakes. ½
Hourglass is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box