Soul Stew Records – 2014
11 tracks; 44 minutes
Norman Taylor is from the Philadephia area where soul music is in the blood. Norman can do soulful but also plays in country blues style. On this album of ten originals plus a version of one traditional song Norman plays guitars, acoustic and electric, plus mandolin: Steve Goldstein accompanies him on guitar, co-producer/engineer Roycee Martin plays bass and Tom Callan drums.
The album opens with the sprightly “100 Miles From Memphis”, a country blues which speaks of travelling to the Bluff City: “It’s the land of my song, it’s the place in my heart; I may not be from Memphis but we’re never far apart”. Whilst Norman is clearly adept at the country blues style, as on second track “Betrayed Blues” his voice adapts well to a more soulful song such as “Anywhere But Here” where his slide sits alongside electric guitar and some gentle but insistent hand percussion. “Downhome Camden, SC” is an instrumental dialogue between guitar and bass before we get another well-crafted original in “Soultrippin’”. This is a lovely tune with a catchy central refrain, some fine picking on both acoustic and electric guitar and some inventive lyrics – it’s not often that we get ‘marinade’ in a blues or soul song! In “The Apology” Norman sounds genuinely sorry for his actions: the gentle music, weeping guitar and words of regret must surely win back the object of his affection. Another gentle tune with a latin lilt follows in “Beautiful You” – perhaps this is the person to whom “The Apology” was sent?
The traditional “Going Down The Road” was a favorite of the Grateful Dead but works very well here in a solo performance, Norman’s deep voice fitting the song well. “Grace Walking” is a full band performance with plenty of strong guitar interplay between Norman and Steve, another soulful tribute to Norman’s muse. “Garden Of The Blues” returns to bluesier paths whilst adding some eastern references in the guitar playing before the oddly titled “Betrayed 2.0” closes the album in upbeat mode. This song is the most ‘electric’ tune here with stinging guitar notes above some intense work from drummer Tom on an angry song about being let down in a relationship.
This appears to be Norman’s first CD and it is an excellent debut with plenty of fine playing and interesting songs which make it well worth investigating.