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James Taylor is a remarkable musician, as well know for his personal and distinctive interpretations of songs written by others like "Up On The Roof," "Mockingbird" and "Handy Man" as for his critically acclaimed and commercially successful originals. After more than 30 years writing, singing and playing, he's just released a brilliant collection of "covers," aptly titled Covers. It includes some expected and unexpected tunes, and his usual incredible band. In all this would be an exceptional album if it weren't for the fact that this beautiful music is exactly what we've come to expect from James Taylor. His unassuming manner, easygoing style and natural musicianship make all of his work in a class alone. Covers however, is remarkable in that each of the selections have been a hit before. Taylor doesn't so much re-interpret as he does simply sing the song. These versions are certainly unique and personal, but they are entirely without affectation or pretense.
Bill Robinson's "It's Growing" opens the set. The groove is easy and gentle. Steve Gadd's drums and Jimmy Johnson's swinging bass make the track elegant and groovy. Taylor sings in an effortless baritone; simple, direct and soulful. When you listen carefully to the endings of his recordings; to the stretch that makes the tune really come alive, you appreciate how deeply musical and direct he is. James Taylor is a brilliant communicator and nothing stands between his heart and your ear. "(I'm A) Road Runner" is sly and subtle rather than hard-edged and funky. Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" is one of the most touching and well-crafted tunes ever written. Glen Campbell's hit record is as simple as it is definitive. For Covers, JT just covers it. Aided by Andrea Zonn's lyrical fiddle, Taylor's vocal just drifts through the melody without looking back.
It makes sense to have a couple of Leiber and Stoller tunes on a record of covers. In fact, more than Covers, this is a set of classic material. "Hound Dog" is delivered as a second line rumba with smooth backing vocals. "On Broadway" is an easy slide, with subtle drums and a wonderful instrumental interlude featuring Lou Marini and Walt Fowler. There's not a note that doesn't have the style of a made-for suit and timeless taste. JT isn't just good; he's so "right" all the time.
Taylor has reportedly wanted to do this project for some time, and Hear Music (Starbucks) is a terrific distribution set-up to deliver it. While other labels look for the next big act, Starbucks keeps it real with the likes of Sir Paul, Joni Mitchell and Dylan. Covers is perfect for their catalogue with its mix of old and new, different and familiar. On the unusual side Taylor sings John Anderson's haunting, politically charged "Seminole Wind" with an appropriately haunting violin obbligato. On the more funky side (Taylor always had a deeply soulful streak) "Summertime Blues" has a slinky groove and tight backbeat. The long and short of it is JT has real soul. He's in the pocket and smooth, but this record is all heart.
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|Number of Discs:||1|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||0.15|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||0.26 x 5.14 x 6.04|
|2.||(I'm A) Road Runner|
|4.||Why Baby Why|
|5.||Some Days You Gotta Dance|
|12.||Not Fade Away|
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