Sean Taylor (label)
07 February 2017 (released)
21 January 2017
In 2015 I said of Sean Taylor’s last album ‘The Only Good Addiction Is Love’ “I seriously adore this guy’s playing and singing and the album is a real piece of class in a world of bland and dull” – the only thing that seems to have changed since is that he has grown in confidence and developed new strings to his bow that make the music here among the most intense and shocking – in a good way – I’ve heard this year.
Opening with ‘Codeine Dreams’ Mr Taylor plunges you into a dark space, echoing and slowly pressing in to the listener. It hasn’t got any real sense of direction of narrative, rather creating a sense of dark stone in the listener that, even if you have never experienced it, describes the sense of floating pacifity. Beautiful sax from Joe Morales winds in and around Taylor’s vocals.
That leads on to ‘A Good Place To Die’. A great piece of Americana that features Mark Hallman’s Hammond under Taylor’s superb guitar solo and then into a delightful soft shoe shuffle ‘The Cruelty Of Man’ and the jazz-like ‘Troubadour’ with stirring double bass and Mike Hardwick’s wailing pedal steel.
The title track is hard, edgy and poetic, lacking in warmth and dark but somehow it draws you in and the words sting like the lash of a whip. Modern day gospel?
All of the songs bar one are originals but his version of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, harshly picked and with waling harp, is utterly unlike the Elvis version but it sounds so natural and so right. The closer ‘Better Man’ was written with Danny Thompson’s bass in mind and he supplies a performance worthy of the album. Hana Piranha’s violin on the same track is sad and beautiful, a perfect foil for Tayor’s vocal.
Taylor doesn’t do love songs or sex music. His themes are the experience of being a human in an inhumane world and he holds up a remarkably clear mirror to the underside of our lives and he does the evocative treatment of the obscure emotions of man and he does it better than anyone else I’ve heard in years.