12 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Otis Taylor has a deep command and knowledge of the blues, but to label him a bluesman is far too limiting, for there’s nothing formulaic about his music. Taylor is sincere and intense, and Definition of a Circle is an especially varied and rich recording. He offers plenty of bluesy rock and tough grooves (“Little Betty,” with screaming lead guitar by Gary Moore, “Love and Hesitation,” “Something in Your Back Pocket”), tells some complicated stories, as on “Looking Over Your Fence” about a leering, lecherous neighbor (with searing harmonica by Charlie Musselwhite), and covers political and topical subjects as well —“They Wore Blue,” a song about Hurricane Katrina, is positively spine tingling thanks in part to the beautiful background vocals by Taylor’s daughter Cassie. He also offers haunting ballads (“My Name is General Jackson”) and other stylistic hybrids that feature diverse instrumentation, including banjo, mandolin, organ, violin, cello, piano, and some fine trumpet by Ron Miles. There’s also a discordant and hypnotic piano duel (“Long Long Life”) between Taylor and jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara that’s as stunning as it is unexpected. Taylor has released an album a year since 2000 and they’re all strong, and Definition of a Circle is certainly one of his best so far.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Otis Taylor has a deep command and knowledge of the blues, but to label him a bluesman is far too limiting, for there’s nothing formulaic about his music. Taylor is sincere and intense, and Definition of a Circle is an especially varied and rich recording. He offers plenty of bluesy rock and tough grooves (“Little Betty,” with screaming lead guitar by Gary Moore, “Love and Hesitation,” “Something in Your Back Pocket”), tells some complicated stories, as on “Looking Over Your Fence” about a leering, lecherous neighbor (with searing harmonica by Charlie Musselwhite), and covers political and topical subjects as well —“They Wore Blue,” a song about Hurricane Katrina, is positively spine tingling thanks in part to the beautiful background vocals by Taylor’s daughter Cassie. He also offers haunting ballads (“My Name is General Jackson”) and other stylistic hybrids that feature diverse instrumentation, including banjo, mandolin, organ, violin, cello, piano, and some fine trumpet by Ron Miles. There’s also a discordant and hypnotic piano duel (“Long Long Life”) between Taylor and jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara that’s as stunning as it is unexpected. Taylor has released an album a year since 2000 and they’re all strong, and Definition of a Circle is certainly one of his best so far.

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