Thursday, 23 February 2017

Chip Taylor - A Song I Can Live With, album review

Authentic and Unpretentious

The second song Until it Hurts on Chip Taylor’s latest album is so symptomatic of the great songwriting on this album: simplicity swelled with experience and meaningfulness. Essentially a spoken narrative – addressing songwriting itself – Taylor talks about honest songwriting whilst he ruminates on the death of David Bowie and Lou Reed. Prior to this, the song had begun as the most ordinary account of walking to the health club for a workout [and the song has a chorus-build very similar to Trent Reznor’s Hurt, presumably a direct echo because it uses that word], and when he puts the earplugs in getting on the treadmill he delivers the line I listen to a collage of our love and pain, turn the numbers up again and again until it hurts and you assume this is about a personal relationship – but it is, I presume from what follows, about the music that has and will always survive the artists [writers and performers] who have died.

The album opens on a clever, affecting song, Crazy Girl. Delivered like all in a grizzled spoken vocal, the rapid repetition of crazy girl and with the sweetest eyes/humble eyes and another repetition she could sing my song my song my song it is genuinely so powerful. It could be any girl, of course, but it could be any one or an amalgam of Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and others who sang his songs.

This is an intimate acoustic recording, so close and real that you hear Taylor’s breathing and other sounds of being so close to the microphone. It really couldn’t get any more authentic and unpretentious than this.

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