CHIP TAYLOR - Black And Blue America (2001)
Chip Taylor is an American songwriter, noted for writing "Angel of the Morning" and "Wild Thing." His songs have been covered, and often made into hits, by a wide range of artists, including P.P. Arnold, Janis Joplin, Juice Newton, Anne Murray, Ace Frehley, Jimi Hendrix, Chrissie Hynde, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris.
Chip Taylor has turned into the philosopher of country music, not to mention its social historian. With each track introduced by a soundbite that seems to act as a springboard for his lyrical musings, Taylor tracks the way America lost its innocence ("Black and Blue America"), relationships ("In Your Weakness"), the carefree young life ("For Worth Thursday Night," which gets extra points for a gratuitous mention of Robert Earl Keen), and alcohol and faith ("Dance With Jesus"). So, by its nature, this isn't an album for casual listening, although on one level listeners can let it float along, with a sound that ranges from alt-country to gospel. It's largely stripped-down, but that suits him. When the band swells behind him, Taylor's voice takes on neo-operatic tones that simply don't work. What's really passion sounds merely like too much effort. But the songs definitely do work, and duets with Lucinda Williams, John Prine, and former soul diva P.P. Arnold sparkle, even when they're as bleak as Williams' contribution to "The Ship." Over the years Taylor's work has turned introspective, but this might be his deepest yet, a plumbing of what life, America, and its people has become. His future releases will probably have the same warm humor, compassion, and hope for the future as Black and Blue America.
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