I am a huge James Taylor fan! (And that was before I knew that James considers himself a Bass player… more on that below!)
I have been to more James Taylor concerts that any other performer and I probably have all of his CD’s and records, including a 45 of, “You’ve Got a Friend,” that I picked up in San Francisco back in the 70’s.
That said, I totally wanted to hear this newly released, long awaited CD (His first studio album in the last thirteen years and his seventeenth). Apparently, I was not alone and, “Before This World” has put James in the #1 slot on the Billboards’s Top 100 Album Chart for his first time and made it the # 1 album in America, selling 97,000 copies in it’s debut week!
His reaction is classic and his humbleness inspiring:
If you are a James Taylor fan, you will definitely enjoy Before This World, no matter what this reviewer has to say. If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of James Taylor, now is a great time to get acquainted.
James Taylor is the consummate performer. His songwriting touches our hearts and his melodies embed themselves in our memories as we go through our everyday life. James’ music is the soundtrack of American life as we know it. He can rock, he has a country twist, his guitar work is unique and he can sure sing the blues. His soothing deep voice has calmed our children and been the refuge where we have sheltered ourselves in when times got hard. Amazingly, his vocal quality has not diminished a bit over the years!
“Before This World” has a ten song set list. Nine of these are new compositions from James himself. They are reflective of current events and topics, and have James’ musical style written all over them.You will find them familiar, yet different and this can make them somewhat challenging to accept, but give them a chance and you will.
James has said that at the foundation of it all he is a Bass player (his first instrument is Cello) and that his music is centered around a bass line that he plays with his thumb. This foundation make the bass essential to his music and the solid work from Jimmy Johnson drives the songs, but is subtle and not over the top.The rest of the band, including Steve Gadd on Drums, nailed their end of the job. We should mention that Sting contributed to the vocals on the title track and Yo Yo Ma’s cello work on a few of the tracks is as always, flawless.
Each song on this CD is a complete story in it’s own right. James himself is the most qualified storyteller. Instead of trying to break each one down for you, I recommend that you listen to them yourself.
I did find some videos that will give you the general idea.
“Today, Today, Today”
“Stretch of Highway”
“Angels of Fenway”
Hopefully these samples will give you a taste of this fine piece of musical excellence, and you will give yourself the opportunity to enjoy it in it’s entirety; this is a must hear for all.
You should know that there are deluxe editions that include a DVD and additional tracks, so if you want one of these you should make sure you order the right one.
More about James Taylor at: jamestaylor.com