Review : James Taylor - Covers
BostonThis metaphor may be the oldest in the book. But to open James Taylor's new "Covers" album and settle back to listen to his voice is like uncorking a fine wine that has been deepened and enriched by age. Taylor's new collection of covers is a bit of trifle, composed of musical chestnuts recorded with his "Band of Legends" in a 10-day period in a converted barn on Taylor's western Massachusetts property. However, for a modest little offering, you'll be amazed at its presumption.
Taylor rocks, he rolls, he croons - a little country, a lot of soul, and a couple of sides of saccharine. Utterly perfect is Taylor's haunting rendition of "Wichita Lineman," the Jimmy Webb tune made popular by Glen Campbell. Sweet Baby James also returns to form with the Temptations' hit "It's Growing" and the Dixie Chicks' "Some Day You Gotta Dance."...full text
RollingstoneOn hits like "Handy Man," "Up on the Roof" and "How Sweet It Is (to be Loved by You)," James Taylor's way of interpreting other songwriters' hits has been to turn them into James Taylor songs. His honeyed drawl is supple enough to accommodate R&B and country standards, sweetening the savory tang of their rural sources. That approach guides Covers, where Taylor assays the likes of the Drifters' "On Broadway," Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne." He softens the arrangements — guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, with horn and string embellishments — and brings the lyrics to the fore, emphasizing the songs as stories. Taylor doesn't compete with his sources, he defers to them — a strategy that's gracious and wise. His sly reading of "(I'm a) Road Runner" can't touch Jr. Walker's garage-soul masterpiece, but it's joyous nonetheless. His glee in rendering "Why Baby Why," George Jones' chronicle of obsessive love, is palpable, and he brings a similar celebratory energy to Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues." Covers, then, is a fan's notes: a great singer-songwriter playing DJ, showcasing songs he loves for listeners who love him....full text
AllmusicA cozy companion to One Man Band, James Taylor's 2007 intimate stroll through his back pages for Starbucks' Hear Music, Covers once again finds the singer/songwriter on familiar, friendly territory, as he returns to his easy rolling full band and digs into the songbook of the rock & roll era. It's his era, of course, the time he had hit singles, including many hit cover versions, as he points out himself in his brief liner notes to the album. All of this makes Covers feel perhaps even more comfortable than One Man Band, which had the distinction of its unique guitar-and-piano arrangements, something that made his hits sound relatively fresh. Here, standards -- and despite a couple of oddball choices like the Spinners' "Sadie," John Anderson's "Seminole Wind," and the only modern song here, the Dixie Chicks' "Some Days You Gotta Dance," this is all standards like "Wichita Lineman," "Suzanne," "Hound Dog," "On Broadway," "Summertime Blues," and "Not Fade Away" -- are given Taylor's warm, mellow signature, so Covers winds up feeling a bit like an outdoor concert on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon: something that is wholly relaxing and not in the least surprising....full text
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