"I’m too sacred for the sinners/And the saints wish I would leave." - Mark Heard
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Review - Terry Scott Taylor - LITTLE, big
Not my favorite Terry Scott Taylor album. I don't think I've listened to it once since this review in 2002. Mayhaps I'll give it one more try but my recollection is that there just isn't a lot of sparkle.
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LITTLE, big, the latest solo offering by the prolific Terry Scott Taylor, is possibly his most personal project yet with the subject of each song being someone personally close to him, each viewed through the lens of the "everyday." While seemingly mundane, Taylor reveals his brilliance by being able to give the listener a gentle glimpse into the extraordinary that lies just behind the ordinary that we often take for granted.
As on his first two solo projects (including the timeless Knowledge & Innocence, which should be required listening for anyone who has lost a loved one to the icy hands of death), Taylor has collaborated with Rob Watson. Thanks to Watson's loving attention and studio wizardry, the six songs on this E.P. have an intimate yet orchestral sound, in many ways similar to the Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds, an album which Taylor holds as one of his favorites.
The title track comes the closest to capturing the Beatles feel of Knowledge & Innocence, loaded as it is with keyboards (Watson's main instrument), ethereal background vocals, thundering timpani, and orchestral spots of color. The lyrics set the theme for the album with lines like, "Goin' home to my little house / To my little wife and not so little kids / There inside my little world / Is the love I feel / So big." Flute, oboe and the occasional orchestral string flourish adorn the relaxed "Molly Is A Metaphor" where Taylor, with acoustic guitar in tow, uses the family cat to examine eternal love. The Beach Boys influence is extremely apparent in "Lovely Lilly Lou", a catchy tune built around a staccato piano melody and heaped with mounds of sounds like sleigh bells, wood blocks, timpani, a variety of organic keyboard sounds, and a bridge replete with a 1930s feel and honky-tonk piano. "Oh, Sweet Companion" is a song for Taylor's wife and although I'm sure she enjoyed it, it's a simplistic tune that seems out of place on this disc. Likewise, "Rob's And Carolee's" is full of inside jokes that were surely enjoyed by the title characters but the melody seems a bit forced and saccharine to my ears despite the lush orchestration. The final track, "Mama's In The Desert, Daddy's In The Sky", is classic Terry Scott Taylor. With acoustic guitar, strings, operatic female vocals and a melancholy melody, Taylor sings of his mother, "She's gone to talk to Daddy / And lay some flowers on his grave/ She says she knows Dad isn't there but / It helps her to get by." Both sorrowful and encouraging, the song brings this album of quaint and peaceful pop to a satisfying close. Available at www.danielamos.com.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, November 2002.