Otis Taylor review….

OTIS TAYLOR

MY WORLD IS GONE

CONCORD MUSIC GROUP

TELARC  34028-02

MY WORLD IS GONE–LOST MY HORSE–HUCKLEBERRY BLUES–SAND CREEK MASSACRE MOURNING–THE WIND COMES IN–BLUE RAIN IN AFRICA–NEVER BEEN TO THE RESERVATION–GIRL FRIEND’S HOUSE–JAE JAE WALTZ–GANGSTER AND IZTATOZ CHAUFFEUR–COMING WITH CROSSES–GREEN APPLES–SIT ACROSS YOUR TABLE

 

For several years, Otis Taylor has been the purveyor of what has become known as “trance blues,’ with his droning style, haunting melodies, and use of banjos, mandolin, and muted horns amidst his sparse arrangements.  Mato Nanji is the guitarist and driving force behind the Native American band, Indigenous.  At a recent Hendrix tribute, these two stalwarts were discussing the history of their ancestors when Nanji lamented that “my world is gone,” referring to the memories of his Nakota Nation.  These words hit hard with Otis, who has always prided himself as a voice for the oppressed.  This set the tone for Otis’ latest album for Concord Music, “My World Is Gone.”  It is thirteen originals that include Nanji on guitar and mandolin on six tracks and vocals on several others, and, in Otis’ stark, minimalist style, deals with pain, loss, deceptions, and, ultimate looks to the future for love and freedom.

 

Joining Otis and Mato on this set are Ron Miles on cornet, Anne Harris on fiddle, Todd Edmunds on bass, Larry Thompson on drums, and band newcomer Shawn Starski on guitar.

 

Surprisingly, (at least for an Otis Taylor album) there is a definitive “groove” on several cuts, and not all the cuts are harbingers of gloom and doom.  Listen to Otis’ banjo leads and Ron’s muted cornet in “Huckleberry Blues,” where Otis sings of a man being stalked by a female neighbor.  In a similar vein is the sprightly “Jae Jae Waltz,” which finds a widow being courted at a dance in an effort to rekindle her passion.  And, the set closes with “Sit Across Your Table.’  It has a fiery solo from Starski, and tells a story of a simple working man who is thankful for life’s everyday pleasures.

 

But, Otis has a dark side, and, inspired by Mato and his people, uses it to create songs that delve into the core of the problems between today’s society and Native Americans.  The leadoff cut addresses this very fact, as the traditional world of the Native Americans is,  for the most part, gone forever.  A mournful, marching beat drives Otis’ sad tale of the killing of some 200 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho in “Sand Creek Massacre Mourning.”  Anne’s fiddle and Otis’ guitar over Larry’s beats help recount the story of a young man remembering the murder of his mother in “Coming With Crosses.”   For us, the most powerful cut was “Never Been To The Reservation,” where those in power seem to be oblivious to the plight of the “babies living in the streets.”

 

Otis Taylor strives to make each album better than the last.  And, with “My World Is Gone,” he has added to his growing legacy with a set that, with the help of Mato Nanji, sheds a strong light on those victims of oppression.   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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