First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2001, Volume 8, #7
Written by John Metzger
Otis Taylor's White African is one of the more haunting blues albums to be released in recent memory. Throughout the disc, Taylor digs deep into the heart and soul of the genre to tell tales of the downtrodden — the sick, the dying, the homeless — through the broader themes of bigotry, injustice, and heartache. There is sense of anger and disgust that bubbles just below the surface of the songs, allowing them to continue to resonate long after they've been played.
Much of White African is sparsely recorded and sounds as if it was written on a Louisiana back porch many years ago. It largely recalls the minimalist blues of John Lee Hooker in the way that Taylor traverses each tracks' soulful single-chord droning by deftly accompanying himself on guitar, banjo, mandolin, or harmonica. Even when other musicians are employed, they merely add subtleties to his songs. Guitarist Eddie Taylor provides a eerie wail of electric slide to Resurrection Blues, vocalist Cassie Taylor adds ghostly wisps to 3 Days and 3 Nights, and the sound of Kenny Passarelli's sturdy slogging bass accents, rather than colors, Taylor's rhythmic flourishes. White African is not the roadhouse blues of a Saturday night party. It's the chillingly painful, singularly personal, and downright funereal blues that explains why a person might drink alone. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box