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Louise Taylor Link:

Louise Taylor

Louise Taylor
Velvet Town

2003, Signature Sounds

On this, her fourth record for Signature Sounds, the aptly named Velvet Town, singer-songwriter Louise Taylor turns out a new collection of remarkable songs at once lush, exotic, smoothly textured and downright sexy.

Self produced with help from the multi-talented Annie Gallup, Taylor weaves beguiling tales of the hopeless and forlorn, of love lost and found—empathetic odes to those who would exist on life’s fringes. In many ways the record continues the conceptual, personal journeying put to imagery and song that Taylor so masterfully achieved with Ride, her hugely heralded third record. But here, the Vermont songwriter brings a new sophistication and eclecticism to the music, reaching beyond the realm of simple folk referencing such diverse musical idioms as African rhythms, Delta blues, primitive beats and percussive jazz. Front and center in most of the songs is Taylor’s signature guitar work.

The record opens with “Something Like This,” a catchy tune that reflects Taylor’s signature hook-laden, spare phrasing and percussive guitar playing, followed by the smoky and sultry “If I Had My Dream” and the title cut, “Velvet Town,” which smolders with a slow, bluesy, wee hours of the morning kind of appeal. Other tunes, such as “Maps of Venice,” “Midnight Rain,” “Little Collette” and “Only the Wind” showcase one of contemporary music’s more eclectic and soulful voices and an accomplished lyricist hitting her stride.

On Velvet Town Taylor is often reminiscent of some of the great blues and jazz vocalists of the modern era, including Billie Holiday and Esther Phillips. And while she may channel certain jazz stylists—Cassandra Wilson also comes immediately to mind—Taylor’s vocal style is hers alone. When matched with her thoughtful lyrics and simple yet quirky melodies, the result is always special. In many ways, the talent of Louise Taylor is comparable to none.

Apart from teaming up with Gallup, Taylor employs a diverse range of accomplished musicians for “Velvet Town,” including percussionist Dean Sharp, Ira Coleman on standup bass, Richard Gates on electric bass and Ken McGloin on classical and electric guitar. Eugene Uman’s memorable ivory work punctuates much of the record. The record also features the haunting cello of former Nudes co-founder Stephanie Winters and harmonies by Kristin DeWitt.

To those already familiar with the formidable work of Louise Taylor, Velvet Town will stand as a logical extension of a unique talent maturing into one of the more distinctive voices in contemporary folk music. For the unfortunate ones yet to discover the somewhat enigmatic Taylor, Velvet Town may well be their wake-up call. —Ralph DiGennaro

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