Wednesday, July 21, 2010

11. James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Counting down my favorite 25 albums of 1970:

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

I was familiar with the song 'Fire and Rain' before I ever listened to this album, so I had an idea of what to expect - smart, mellow, minor-key folk rock with enough of a melancholy edge to not be sappy. The album provides exactly that ('Sunny Skies' is an apt example), but this is not a follow-your-formula kind of album; it's more of a jazz-like riffing on a theme.

Without straying too far from his comfort zone, Taylor explores a variety of genres: the country waltz lullabye of 'Sweet Baby James', the bluesy 'Steamroller', the gospel 'Lo and Behold', and the vocal improvisation in 'Oh Susanna'. The final track, 'Suite for 20G', is a multi-textured combination of several of these elements, and it's a perfect, if disjointed, culmination of the tracks that precede it.

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