Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

 |   |  1 min read

Otis Taylor: Blind Piano Teacher
Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contra Band (Telarc)

Singer-guitarist Taylor is nominally posted here under Blues in Elsewhere, but -- as always, see previous reviews here -- he doesn't easily fit into the prescription, broad though it might be.

Here, for example, he leans towards African sounds on Yell Your Name (just him, drums and cornet on a chant-like song) and sometimes has a djembe player alongside pedal steel, organ and fiddle.

Taylor is the kind of guy who conceives a song ("a young black blind piano teacher lives with an older white man", "a black soldier, after fighting abroad in World War I, realises he has never seen Africa" or "a man begs a woman for compassion after a hard life") and then finds the voice, style and instrumentation to convey the idea.

He has a profound sense of history also: Contraband Blues is described as "during the Civil War, some slaves who escaped to the North were held by the Union Army as contraband, the same as captured property" and Romans Had Their Way is "if the Romans had their way in war, would we still be here today?"

Many of these songs work over repeated guitar or rhythmic figures and have a hypnotic quality, enhanced by Taylor's occasionally high and soft voice. This isn't blues which barks at you, rather he draws you in. He's a storyteller too.

Of course he does unleash hell'n'fury sometimes (I Can See You're Lying where guitarist Jon Paul Johnson lets fly) but Taylor is a someone different and special, and this is another album which delivers the unexpected. Which, ironicaly, is what you'd expect from him.

Make the time to discover Otis Taylor. He offer "blues" with a difference.

Like the sound of this? Then check out the link to his previous albums or try this guy.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

WATERMELON SLIM INTERVIEWED (2007): He's had interesting lives

“You tell them this,” says 58-year old bluesman Watermelon Slim in a voice which sounds like he has been gargling whisky-soaked nails. “God has blessed me with an extremely full... > Read more

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

For someone yet to hit 30, the Jacksonville, Florida-based singer-guitarist Derek Trucks has achieved a lot. But then, he was almost born to it. His uncle is drummer Butch Trucks of the Allman... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

POP TO POPISM (2014): The cultural shift in contemporary art

POP TO POPISM (2014): The cultural shift in contemporary art

In the early Sixties just before the Beatles conquered America through a combination of art, smarts and image – and shifted the coordinates of popular culture to Britain – America... > Read more

Ravi Shankar, Improvisations (1962)

Ravi Shankar, Improvisations (1962)

George Harrison quite correctly referred to the sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar as "the godfather of world music" -- and Shankar was creating and giving his blessing to cross-cultural... > Read more