Last weekend I went to hear Michael Roe and Derri Daugherty as they started their Misery Loves Company tour (see my previous post). At that performance I was introduced to a new-to-me artist named Chris Taylor who is performing with them. While his musical style differs from Roe and Daugherty (whose styles are likewise somewhat different from each other), the three of them find a way to complement each other nicely, without conflicting or fighting for attention.
Their round-robin style of performance gave each of them equal time in the spotlight, and we got to hear Taylor’s style. None of Chris’ songs were familiar to me because they were all original, so after the show I picked up his CD entitled Daylight. Here is my review of it.
Overall, it’s a light rendering of strummy grass roots / folk music, with hints of blues mixed with a James Taylor-esque feel at times (no relation as far as I know). The lyrics are both dark and hopeful at the same time. There are 10 tracks that don’t deviate too far from that core sound, with occasional electric guitar licks (both clean and “dirty”), saxophone solos and harmonica moans rounding out the otherwise simple musical flavor.
1) Every Little Thing – This becomes a more catchy song as it goes along. If I produced this CD I would have swapped it with the title song in the #8 slot.
2) Little King of Everything – This slower, slightly bluesy song, has the catchy lyrics, “Come on sleepyhead, come on back to bed, let the morning sun shine on and on.” The beat will have your head gently bobbing as you envision yourself walking in slow motion down a country road.
3) Dogtown – Nice use of vocal reverb in this tune where the bass line could carry the song if it were brought more forward. Best lyric: “Your kingdom is a-coming and Your will be done. I’m shooting at my demons with a water gun.”
4) Set Our Sail – This is a slow and musically sweet song, with no percussion, that feels like floating in a boat, hoping the wind will come pick up our sail and take us forward. “Licking honey from a thorn. Will I ever be reborn?”
5) Whatever The Day Brings – This song has the most catchy melody and lyrics on the CD, with the thought-provoking, “Hate is a virus from outer space making its way across the human race,” and the reminder that we are not God, “I wasn’t there in the beginning, I won’t be there in the end. Love is a haunting melody — connects enemies, divides friends.”
6) Same Way Twice – The first three things you notice in this song are the overdriven electric guitar, the low vocals and the gritty sound. The best lyrics: “I’ve been living and dying at the very same time, waiting on Your love to blow my mind. Thought I was The Eggman, but I’m never the hen. I ain’t even fit to be Gentleman Jim.” The character references are presumed to be from the films Pink Flamingo (The Eggman is Edie’s knight in shining armor) and Gentleman Jim, the title character (whose arrogance irks the rest of the roughneck boxers) played by Errol Flynn.
7) Ragamuffin Song – I’m guessing the producer thought that the up-close bass-boosted vocals would give the song character, but it doesn’t work for me. I do like the song, however, and paired with the recurring phrase “Good work to be done” it’s reminiscent of southern black work songs, in which one must keep focus on the goal so as to not get lost in the dire current conditions. It’s clear that the lyrics in the verse were deeply painful for Taylor, and that this song serves, perhaps, as his self-applied therapy. The final line of “drop your fiddle, change your life and come with me” causes me to recall how Jesus challenged his disciples to stop their daily routine and get busy with more important things.
8) Daylight – This song reveals the redemption that is available to us, as we give God our old garbage and he replaces it with His “cup [filled] with Daylight.” The tag, “The doors are open wide” gives us an open-ended view of our future possibilities and hopefulness. This would have made a good opening song for the CD.
9) Slide – This dark melody, ironically, has a hopeful message: “Sometimes all you want to do is slide right down the arms of love.” To be honest, this song ought to be picked up by a major TV studio for use at the end of a heart-wrenching episode of [insert popular series here]; it’s got that sound. The production of Slide is how Ragamuffin Song should have been done.
10) Goodnight Goodnight – Harmonica-infused sweet melody to end the day. And a good way to end this review.
Chris Taylor’s website: http://www.christaylorworld.com