Otis Taylor: Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs
Modern bluesman sidesteps nostalgia
Otis Taylor’s challenge as a bluesman in 2009 is avoiding the treacherous pitfalls of archaism, a feat he usually performs gracefully. His answer on Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs is the same it’s always been: layers. On this new album, the master craftsman melds syncopated rhythms and haunting minor-key sax scales on “Talking About it Blues,” and blends his signature “trance” style—rapid fingerpicking overlaid by simple vocals—with shouts, groans and yells on “Walk on Water.” Sure, there are a few moments of eye-roll inducing sap (the piano solos, dripping with emotive syrup at either end of “I’m not mysterious”) but, overall, this collection of love songs keeps the touchy-feely at arm’s length and sparkles with emotional honesty.
Listen to Otis Taylor on MySpace.