Sunday, March 7, 2010
Sean TAYLOR - Calcutta Grove 2009
Calcutta Grove seems to be a light in a very dark folk/blues world. After the loss of John Martyn and Davy Graham its good to hear an array of cleverly arranged songs with inspirations from some of the great heroes. Inspiring.
Talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Sean Taylor, has crafted an album of dark, understated beauty with Calcutta Grove. With a minimalist approach to the arrangement and production, Calcutta Grove is a whispering, bluesy album with an eerie and intoxicating atmosphere that agitates the mind like an evening spent with a good bottle of whiskey. Taylor credits John Martyn as being one of his influences, and Calcutta Grove owes much to the musical meanderings of Martyn with its extemporaneous, discordant leanings, and in particular, Taylor's mesmerising guitar technique.
Taylor sings with a smooth reticence on the absorbing title track that opens the album, departing from this serenity momentarily for a stifled, tormented howl that hints at an inner disquiet. "Revelations" follows with a funky blues-drenched rhythm that carries a cool charm, yet still retains an air of nonchalance. The angry, domineering distortions of an electric guitar break the peace quite dramatically on the short instrumental interlude of "Salvo," that nicely punctuates the otherwise tranquil ambience.
There are a couple of nods back to Taylor's own heroes with a kaleidoscopic treatment of Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues," and a robust reading of the traditional spiritual "Motherless Child," referred to here as "Freedom" in recognition of Richie Havens' celebrated improvisation.
Lyrically, it would seem that Taylor is something of a man of mystery, with abstract allusions that will fuel much interpretation. With the recent passing of John Martyn, there is a void in music that could well be filled by Sean Taylor. This is timeless music where every element is a well-thought, carefully crafted addition to an overall work of art. Repeated listens reward with subtleties, buried between the sweeping layers of sound, that you may not catch immediately. Calcutta Grove may well be the most relaxing, chilled-out music you will here this year.