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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Otis Taylor
Double V
Telarc Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Otis Taylor has been around; he's seen his fair share of people down on their luck, and it shows in his music. Currently residing in Boulder, Colorado, Taylor has been busy in his nine years since returning to the music business after a twenty year hiatus. He has recorded six full-length albums of original material, which have garnered their share of critical acclaim. This includes Double V, his sophomore release for Telarc Records.

While filed under blues, Double V is anything but straight blues. Taylor takes lessons from not only blues, but traditional folk and roots music with hints of bluegrass. He plays guitar, banjo and mandolin, adding liberal accompaniments of cello, and features his daughter Cassie on bass. The instrumentation is very minimal, with the songs based around Taylor's rough bass voice and wonderful storytelling abilities.

Double V is not an overtly political album, but is based on very political subject matter. "Plastic Spoon" tackles poverty as Taylor details an elderly couple forced to eat dog food in order to pay for their prescription drugs. Thought not the brightest outlook on life, it is in too many cases a realistic one.

On "Took Their Land," Taylor addresses the United States government's disturbing trend of stealing land, from slavery to the Native Americans, to the Japanese concentration camps of the Second World War. His message is especially effective, as he is backed by a haunting harmonica. Taylor has been making a name for himself with his dark lyrics, and Double V finds him at his darkest. He also gets personal on "Mama's Selling Heroin" relating his own mother's imprisonment.

Taylor's best decision on Double V comes at the end of the album, on "Buy Myself Some Freedom" when Taylor showcases his seventeen-year-old daughter Cassie's delicate yet incredibly full-toned voice. Cassie basically steals the show at this point, singing with incredible force and confidence. Taylor's guitar is mixed low, leaving Cassie to take the forefront as her powerful voice and a lone trumpet play amongst one another. Being introduced to such a wonderful young talent makes the album a certified hit.

Blues, folk, and roots music is based in exposing America's less fortunate and bringing their stories to the light. Double V does a brilliant job of melding these styles with common lyrical themes.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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