Listen to Otis Taylor on MySpace.
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.