James Taylor - October Road

I may not fit the definition of James Taylor target market in the Columbia Records marketing department, but the fact is that good songs speak for themselves and with 30 years behind him there are few prolific as James Taylor. With a 5 year hiatus between the Grammy Award winning "Hourglass" and his new album "October Road" it would be easy to think that fans would have grown tired of waiting but it didn't stop fans streaming his comeback single "On The 4th Of July" over 350,000 times in just 3 days. It was proof that true legends don't ever fade away and this was just proof that whether he releases music on Vinyl, Cassette, CD or internet streams the fans will still hunt it down and beg for more.

Listening to "October Road" I can only comment as a 20 something year old male in Northern England who until this moment hasn't heard a James Taylor album before in his life, but perhaps it's better that way as I'm not weighed down by the history and hopefully can offer a different perspective. Like David Gates of Bread fame, Taylor offers simplistic melodies lightly picked on acoustic guitars while his subtle vocals only aid the minimalistic backing. It's only on "Whenever You're Ready" that the paces raised against the pedestrian and that's is simply for a booty shaking intro before the wise old man sits back and returns to his well worn formula. What apparent coming from a younger persons perspective is how easily Taylor could sit next to the Nu Acoustic bands such as Turin Brakes and Ben & Jason if it wasn't for the stigma attached with an artist whose career stretches over 30 years.

Still it's an album which veers from it's title track featuring guitar legend Ry Cooder to "Baby Buffalo" dropping in the name Cotton Eye Joe which for someone of my age will forever recall the novelty tune of the same name in the early 90s. Even more bizarre is the albums closer "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" which when played in September makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. "October Road" not only surprised me, but was actually a joy to listen to and while he will never feature in my list of essential artists, there is no denying that he know how to write a tune. He may not be the trendiest artists to name drop in wine bars as the latest nu-acoustic album plays in the background, but ask anyone to trace back the history lines and they will all pass through James Taylor

Alex McCann

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