Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TUESDAY TRAVELS: Nobody "Covers" like JT

Today we take a trip through the world of music. Dad is such a fan of James Taylor that our kids know every JT song since the 1980's by heart. They've heard them on every road trip, danced silly jigs to them as toddlers, enjoyed them on summer lawns in concert, watched them on DVD, and listened to dad play his own versions of them on the guitar.

One aspect of JT's music that I've always enjoyed is his ability to cover the songs of other artists and make them his own. Songs like "You've Got a Friend," "How Sweet It Is," "Everyday," and so many others have always satisfied. Now he's put together an entire album of covers, and it's amazing.

First of all, the new recording is more consistently upbeat than other JT albums. In concert, Taylor often uses covers to pump up the pace and volume, and several of those songs are here, including, "Summertime Blues" and "Not Fade Away." Backed by the fine "Band of Legends" that toured with him this summer, this collection rocks. I especially enjoy the brilliant horn section work and razor-sharp guitar solos.

Second, the variety is wonderful. Songs run the gamut, from the expected standard singer-songwriter material ("Suzanne") to traditional country ("Why Baby Why") to sublime pop ("Wichita Lineman") to smooth, so-fine R&B ("It's Growing," "Sadie").

This is a fine, fun, and fresh recording. According to the liner notes, the sessions took place over ten days in a converted barn studio with twelve outstanding musicians. The energy of this "live in the studio" approach is apparent from the outset.

Highly recommended!

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