First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2004, Volume 11, #7
Written by John Metzger
Perhaps the one thing that has kept Otis Taylor from reaching a wider audience has been the darkness of both his lyrics and his music. His first few forays were daunting song cycles that struck hard, never allowing the listener to glimpse even the slightest ray of sunshine. Since shifting to the Telarc label with last yearís Truth Is Not Fiction, however, Taylor has been modifying his sound, if not his lyrics, in ways that have made his albums far more accessible. Consequently, Please Come Home before It Rains, the opening track from his fifth outing Double V, is positively jubilant in comparison with his previous works. Itís still a sparsely constructed arrangement, featuring guitar, mandolin, and bass ó all of which are performed by Taylor and his daughter Cassie ó bubbling beneath the surface of his bittersweet, emotive vocals, but the African groove he conjures feels far more alive than the death knell that has tolled tirelessly throughout his earliest efforts.
Yet, the biggest difference between Double V and Truth Is Not Fiction is that Taylor has shed his recent preoccupation with rock ínĎ roll and returned to the droning, heady blues of John Lee Hooker. Eddie Turner, the guitarist whose screeching lead on the latter album drew incontrovertible comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, did not contribute to the latest project. Instead, Taylor employed several cellists to lend a sometimes eerie, sometimes airy ambience to the proceedings. Despite these changes, he doesnít abandon the heavy hitting topics that have become synonymous with his songwriting. Plastic Spoon considers the plight of an elderly couple who canít afford their prescription medicines; 505 Train offers a haunting examination of domestic abuse; and several tunes (Took Their Land, He Never Raced on Sunday, Sounds of Attica, and Mandan Woman) view bigotry from various moments in American history. In other words, although Taylor continues to shift and change his approach from one album to the next, the stunning intensity of his delivery is still very much intact, making Double V a worthwhile, if sometimes difficult, endeavor to fully embrace.
Double V is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box