Steven Taylor – Existential Blues
CD: 12 Songs, 46 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues
When you think of the word existential, you might imagine philosophy class and Jean-Paul Sartre’s maxim that “hell is other people.” You might not pair it with the word blues, but Mississippi-born musician Steven Taylor does on his new album. The stepson of Kim Wilson bases his work on a solid backup band with invigorating instrumentation that shines on such original songs as “She’s a Dime” and “Ride the Wave.” Taylor’s vocals take some acclimatization, resembling a poor man’s John Fogerty. If you’re worried about obscure symbolism in the lyrics, let Ms. Wetnight put your fears to rest. The insights “This world’s crashing into me,” and “You’ve got to fight for what’s right every single day of your life,” are as close to existentialism as Taylor gets. He’s at his best when performing covers such as “Midnight Hour” by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, “Easy Baby” by Magic Sam, and “Funked Vibe” by B.B. King. The other nine originals are down-to-earth.
As Steven relates on his website, “Born in Flowood, Mississippi, I was instilled into Blues music through my stepfather Kim Wilson early on. He inspired me to pursue my dream of being a musician. I’ve shared the stage with a list of incredible musicians and bands, including The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Junior Watson, Kid Ramos, Nathan James, Johnny & Jaalene, Anson Funderburgh, Johnny Moeller, and many more! I’ve been inspired by B.B. King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, and Gatemouth Brown, to name a few. They are some of my biggest heroes both in music and in life.”
Joining Taylor (guitar and vocals for all tracks) are Marty Dodson on drums, Kim Wilson on harmonica, Taryn Donath on piano and organ, Bruce Rubio on baritone sax, Vincent Bury on guitar, Scot Smart on electric bass, Zander Griffith on electric and upright bass, Maria Macias on electric bass, Austin Fulsher and Mark Wilson on guitar.
The CD’s standout track is number five, with a fitting title (mentioned below). A jump-blues number with a knockout punch, it runs for four minutes and thirty-nine seconds of delight on the dance floor. It’s flat-out fun, and the musicians sound like they’re having a ball playing it. Contrast this with the rather fastidious effort of “Fight for What’s Right,” a politically-charged number with a capital-M Message. The two are like a lightning bolt and the earth that grounds it. “Fight” may feature Kim Wilson on spot-on harmonica, but if you want to get down, “Ride the Wave.”
Existential Blues plays it light on the philosophy and heavy on contemporary big-band sound!