Otis Taylor: Contraband

Album review
Otis Taylor: Contraband

Otis Taylor


Label: Telarc
Media: CD
Genre: Rock/pop

Otis Taylor may just be the last authentic bluesman. His often intimate songs, informed by the dreams and disappointments of generations of Africans and African Americans, give voice to those, past and present, scattered by the African Diaspora. Contraband derives its name from the escaped slaves held by the Union Army as seized property. The album uses blues, jazz, rock, and West African rhythms to create a seamless sonic collage paired with a personal, rather than political, view of history. There’s nothing forced or artificial about these songs, as for example in the way Taylor blends a sparse Delta blues with a subtle Malian rhythm. Or in Ron Miles’ finely crafted jazz trumpet. Or Fara Tolno’s skillful African percussion. But it’s Taylor’s gift as a storyteller that sets him apart. The opening track, the poignant “The Devil’s Gonna Lie,” is a bristling cautionary tale about war and injustice. “Never Been to Africa” is a black World War I soldier’s lament that he’s seen the world but not Mother Africa. The rockin’ closer, “I Can See You’re Lying,” is played with a bristling sense of urgency that affirms that Taylor is a man on a mission. Contraband is a powerful invitation to join his quest

More Info

  • primary artist, Otis Taylor
  • CD

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