14 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Otis Taylor has the curiosity of a musicologist, the soul of an innovator and the chops to follow his ideas where they take him, and this album works well musically as well as conceptually. As the title suggests, Taylor has an agenda–he wants to remind listeners that the banjo has a deep African history and that the instrument has long been applied to much more than mountain music. To help make his point, he’s assembled a team of respected contemporary bluesmen that includes Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Don Vappie, and Keb’ Mo’, and each of these guests makes strong contributions to the whole. Following Taylor’s vision, they explore the banjo’s role in the blues while putting a modern twist on things, an approach that Taylor has mastered over the course of his long career. There’s more than banjo here, there’s also some serious guitar playing and scattered lap steel, but the heart of the album lies in the numerous mesmerizing banjo rolls that lock in and propel the songs forward. Admirers of Taylor’s music are certainly accustomed to surprises and this is a pleasant one, indeed.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Otis Taylor has the curiosity of a musicologist, the soul of an innovator and the chops to follow his ideas where they take him, and this album works well musically as well as conceptually. As the title suggests, Taylor has an agenda–he wants to remind listeners that the banjo has a deep African history and that the instrument has long been applied to much more than mountain music. To help make his point, he’s assembled a team of respected contemporary bluesmen that includes Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Don Vappie, and Keb’ Mo’, and each of these guests makes strong contributions to the whole. Following Taylor’s vision, they explore the banjo’s role in the blues while putting a modern twist on things, an approach that Taylor has mastered over the course of his long career. There’s more than banjo here, there’s also some serious guitar playing and scattered lap steel, but the heart of the album lies in the numerous mesmerizing banjo rolls that lock in and propel the songs forward. Admirers of Taylor’s music are certainly accustomed to surprises and this is a pleasant one, indeed.

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