on February 20, 2013
I’ve had countless discussions with other blues’ fans, with nearly everyone regretting that they weren’t there when the sensuous strummings, phrasing, and attitudes first made their mark on the musical map. Yet these same people seem to have their feet so firmly rooted in the past that they are unable, or perhaps unwilling, to see what’s happening now, and are missing one of today’s truly great artists. Now mind you, I’m not talking about white-man’s blues, or even contemporary black man’s-blues, which to be honest, are relatively the same, a learned fashion that’s been repeated over and over again so often that it stands light years from what English visionary artists such as John Mayall were doing, and is even further removed from what was being laid down in the 40’s and 50’s, nearly becoming a parody of itself.
Otis Taylor, especially here on My World Is Gone, has taken probably the first significant step in embracing and bringing blues up to date [and this is not his first release], allowing blues to be as interesting and compelling as it was when I first heard it during the mid 60's. His songs are remarkably simple in many aspects, visionary and complex in others, while being as true to life and honest as the blues was when the great legends first captured my ears. Otis Taylor is deeply rooted in several blues' traditions, whether he's playing guitar, banjo, or mandolin, it's simply impossible not to be raptured under his dark enchanting influence. Mr. Taylor’s music manages to conjure a simmering blues’ atmosphere, one filled with what I can only refer to as trance blues ... a significant sound that catches fire, one laced with shadows of Native American percussions that are mixed with a rich simmering laid-back drifting southern swamp sound that’s rock solid, throbbing, and ethereal all in the same breath. Having said this, Otis Taylor has not neglected his lyrics, managing to incorporate honest stories and vocals that have too long been lost or neglected when it comes to contemporary blues ... with his songs sounding as old and sun bleached as anything you’ve ever heard, or have ever experienced before.
My World Is Gone is magic, sacred, filled with protagonist pain, longing, and the joy of an elusive jazzman buried somewhere deep inside his soul.
Review by Jenell Kesler
on February 17, 2013
Otis Taylor's new album is worth a listen as one of the better blues albums (and styles) of today's music scene. Taylor's trance blues style, accompanied by evocative stories in the verses themselves, mark him as a musical innovator. What makes this album unique in his overall trajectory is the collaboration with Mato Nanji, frontman of the band Indigenous. The pairing makes tremendous musical and topical sense, with Nanji's guitar work and vocals providing good texture and mood to the frequent stories on this album of Native American historical experiences. I was happy to discover Taylor a few years ago and to then quickly accumulate all of his albums, and I eagerly awaited the release of this new one. Well worth the wait and the money paid.
on April 2, 2013
Always expanding the borders and our expectations of what modern blues music can be, Otis Taylor has given us a thoughtful and dynamic release with "My World Is Gone" featuring Mato Nanji.
Starting with the title track we have a soft but driven track that features Mato Nanji on some beautiful lead guitar while sharing lead vocals with Mr. Taylor. It is a story of how the Native Americans world has vanished and may very well never return. Beautiful fiddle work by Ms. Anne Harris creates a wind like lightness to this track and in doing so she allows the other artists use her sound to attach their individual contributions to the base she has constructed making for a wonderful feel and ride.
"Lost My Horse" is a throbbing bass driven depiction of a Navajo man who loses his horse due to over consumption of alcohol. The bass is provided by Mr. Todd Edmunds, and the drumming of Mr. Larry Thompson accentuates that pulsing bottom end, as Mr. Nanji displays some fiery guitar work in a very familiar pattern that Mr. Taylor's fans will recognize.
Mr. Taylor has been a proponent in reclaiming the banjo as an African instrument, and this release provides a solid ground for it's greater acceptance in the blues world as well. "The Wind Comes In" is a tightly constructed amalgam of an older style banjo tune with Mr. Taylor's' iconic `trance blues' music. It has created an interesting juxtaposition between the ultra-modern ripping guitar work against the softer old world sound of the banjo and they compliment each other very well. This is true blues for the twenty-first century and beyond.
Speaking of blues into the future, I must visit the track "Huckleberry Blues". With a rhythmic banjo introduction (and base for all the other instruments) we get treated to Ron Miles playing the coronet which adds a certain jazz flavor to the mix. Larry Thompson works the drums with a passion and most unique sense of rhythm. As a listener I heard drum beats that were not there but merely suggested. The tune works wonderful circles with the banjo, coronet and Mr. Taylor's vocals.
A more traditional (familiar) banjo tune would be the "Jae Jae Waltz" wherein a widow is being courted at a dance. The banjo here is finger plucked setting the table for Mr. Miles coronet serenade and some very nice tuba work by Mr. Edmunds.
"Green Apples" brings us true the `trance blues' experience. Musical patterns repeat, posing as simplicity - but listen with your soul and not just your ears, the depth will be revealed to you. There is a complex interplay between Mr. Taylor and Mr. Shawn Starski on the guitars as each holds their space in time. This level of complexity that these artists construct is so contingent upon their individual abilities to be creative, yet structured and play off of each other. It is always interesting that this band's music carries the live performance vibe to the recording studio, something that many bands cannot accomplish.
This is another amazing release from Mr. Taylor and his band. The blues will stay alive and most certainly thriving as long as these folks continue to create music that is both sensual and accessible and not in the set pattern that sometimes seems to define the blues these days.
The blues world is not gone, it is alive and thriving - see it as such at blues411.com.
on March 20, 2013
Otis Taylor's storytelling prowess is again on display on his latest collection, which focuses on tales of Native Americans driven from their land. Joined by great musicians including Mato Nanji, Ron Miles, Anne Harris and others, this is another great contribution to America's blues canon.
on February 23, 2013
I had no knowledge of Otis Taylor at all, the reason I got this CD was because I'm a huge fan of Mato Nanji. Well, now I'm an Otis Taylor fan as well. The rhythms, instrumentation, and overall sound makes for an exceptional album with an interesting musical style. I'll definitely be checking out more Otis Taylor albums and hope to catch a live show too. Thanks Otis and Mato for this fantastic set of songs.
on March 25, 2013
Pentatonic Wars And Love Songs is better (with Jason Moran on piano and Ron Miles on cornet). "The Wind Comes In" is GREAT!! I hope i will hear him live, once upon a time. Jason Moran is artist in residence at Molde Jazz Festival this summer, they say,,,I will be there! Dag
on March 20, 2013
A very different sound, jazz? blues? The songs are moving, some are upbeat.
My son-in-law and I thoroughly enjoyed this collaboration. I heard the album discussed
on NPR, liked the songs played and ordered the album. All the tracks are good.