Otis Taylor has no concern for your discomfort with racial issues. It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times, and there’s plenty to reflect upon. He skips the antiquated blues coding about devils and mojos, and looks you in the eye with the truth. Taylor’s latest is a recording about the varying levels of racism that exist within society.
His 15th album continues this conversation using vivid storytelling, along with a blend of earthy, single-chord, John Lee Hooker blues. Raw acoustic guitars mix with wafting horn lines, electric guitar, Dobro, and banjo.
Taylor’s fine acoustic playing is centered amid sensitive musicianship. Violinist Anne Harris conjures melodious textures, while drummer Larry Thompson and bassist Todd Edmunds manifest a hypnotic pulse. Guests include Jerry Douglas, Ron Miles, and guitarist Brandon Niederauer who provides stellar guitar work.
“Jump To Mexico” and “Walk On Water” are about interracial relationships; “Twelve String Mile” is set in the deep south of the 1930s; while “Hands On Your Stomach” is about a slave woman’s dream of freedom.
Taylor continues to express the black experience not only with words, but also with groove, emotion, and intellect.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’17 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.