Music Matters on 'Tangerine', July 2012
This album is somewhat of a duet, with a Duesenburg hollow-body electric guitar as Louise Taylor’s singing partner.
The guitar’s tangerine finish stands in contrast to the warm, sultry tone and supple touch of Taylor’s fingers on
the strings. Her warmblooded vocals are filled with nuanced variations of color and rhythm as she coaxes darkly
human chords and riffs from her citrus guitar. Although Louise is abetted only by the drumming of Jerry Marotta,
you couldn’t describe the album as stripped-down. Taylor treats each phrase as an opportunity to explore the
melody and the meaning of the words. Her guitar plays with the beat while laying down the mood and melody in
rounded tones. Jerry Marotta is masterful, answering producer Peter Gallway’s call to provide percussion for
the album with a distinctively tasteful, but light touch. Listening is somewhat of a full-bodied experience,
with feet tapping and body swaying in slightly different patterns as you enjoy the beautifully crafted
lyrics. The narrative threads of the songs are shortimpressions and snapshots colored with dusky emotion
and resounding serenity. “Love in the Dark” is particularly haunting as Taylor takes her time with each
line. “The beauty of her lips trembling against the sky/ cut out of shadow framed in the rarest
light/ I want to believe and if I could I would/ whisper all the secrets of my heart/ love looks gorgeous
in the dark.” A mature and deeply satisfying achievement from a uniquely talented artist.
--- Michael Devlin
Ralph Ron DiGennaro on 'Tangerine', June 2012
After a 10-year hiatus, the incomparable Louise Taylor has, at long last, produced a stunning new studio album,
"Tangerine." Spare and deconstructed, this record focuses solely on Ms. Taylor's soulful voice, masterful
(Duesenberg) guitar work, some drum accompaniment, and intelligent, thoughtful songwriting.
--- Ralph Ron DiGennaro
Jeffrey Pepper-Rogers on 'Tangerine', June 2012
The new Louise Taylor album, Tangerine, is a stunner--just gorgeous electric guitar, in-the-pocket drums, and
soulful singing. She's somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Norah Jones, in a zone of her own.
--- Jeffrey Pepper-Rogers
Roots Music Magazine 'Heaven' on 'Tangerine', 2012
Singer-songwriter Louise Taylor's sixth record is released after a long pause, because her first five CDs were
released between 1992 and 2003. Whether the crisis in the record industry caused this, is unclear. It can hardly
have been an artistic crisis though, because Taylor plays eleven songs in which she supply mixes singer-songwriter,
folk, blues and jazz. She recorded her vocals and her semi-acoustic Duesenberg-guitar live in producer Peter
Gallway's living room and afterwards drummer Jerry Marotta dubbed eight of the eleven tracks.
That sparse instrumentation leads to a rich unity. Taylor plays and sings evocatively, calling both Bonnie Raitt and Joni
Mitchell to mind. Marotta does not play the beat, but plays parts in which he answers her. That way he does not only
support Taylor's songs, but he complements the intriguing melodies, in which her in-depth lyrics take centre stage.
Whoever listens to Taylor, is won over by her.
--- Heaven and Ruud
Rein van den Berg on 'Tangerine', June 2012
We wisten dat er plannen waren na een lange stilte. Aanvankelijk zou iets in 2008 het licht zien, maar dat
heeft schijnbaar toch iets meer tijd gevergd. Louise leeft een teruggetrokken bestaan, en woont momenteel te
Honolulu (Hawaï). Is ze uiteindelijk bezweken voor de veelvuldig terugkerende vraag van haar wereldwijd
verspreidde fans. Of lag de ambitie om hernieuwd muziek uit te brengen bij haar zelf? Net als mij ieder chemisch
proces zal er sprake zijn van een wisselwerking. Deze vrouw is namelijk zo ontzettend gedreven, het zou zonde
zijn wanneer zij de wereld datgene onthoudt waarin ze goed is; muziek maken.
Louise komt oorspronkelijk uit een klein plaatje gelegen in de staat Vermont. Mogelijk het episch centrum
van de traditionele folkmuziek, en toevalligerwijze de bestemming van mijn komende vakantie. Het gebied New
England omvat de staten Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts en Vermont. Boston
wordt beschouwd als de belangrijkste hoofdstad. Hier ligt veel van de vroegste Amerikaanse geschiedenis,
althans het gedeelte welke geschreven werd door Europese kolonisten. Het was hier waar puriteinse Engelsen
neerstreken rond 1600, terwijl de Fransen op steenworp afstand zaten.
Haar eerste plaat, Looking for Rivers, dateert van 1992 en werd opgenomen te New Hampshire. Louise Taylor is op dat moment
35 jaar oud, gehuwd en moeder, terwijl een scheiding in de maak is. Relatief oud voor een debuut wanneer je bedenkt dat
ze als 15 jarige al muziek speelde op straat. (Ze was van huis weggelopen en leefde 6 jaar lang letterlijk op straat, en
zwierf door Noord Amerika) De echte ambitie om een muziek carrière na te streven ontstond pas na aanmoedigingen van
vrienden, familie en medemusici zoals Chris Smither en Ray Bonneville. Ze noemt – de voor mij onbekende klassieke
zanger – Frank Baker als haar belangrijkste inspiratiebron. Iemand die haar veel heeft geleerd op het gebied van
expressie en communicatie. Haar eerste album verraadt al haar pure talent, eentje die naarmate tijd verstrijkt verder
wordt ontwikkeld en aanscherpt. Aangrijpende momenten in haar leven; zoals haar leven “on the road”, haar scheiding,
de dood van haar moeder, de geboorte van haar zoon, zijn ervaringen die hun weerslag vinden in het haar werk.
Ze schrijft inzichtelijke teksten met de daarbij behorende emoties. Haar achterliggende oeuvre laat een rode
draad aan kwaliteit zien. Ze is bij voortduring bezig haar zang, gitaarspel en teksten te perfectioneren. Muziek
maken is voor Louise een serieuze aangelegenheid, eentje die verder lijkt te gaan dan slechts het uitoefenen
van een ambacht.
Tangerine is een citrusvrucht, de soort welke je aantreft op Hawai. Tangerine is ook de titel van Louise Taylor’s laatste
cd. Een cumulatieve opsomming, want zo verfijnd, zo subtiel en direct heeft ze nog nooit geklonken. Althans zo lijkt het,
want ik blijf bij voortduring de euforie onderdrukken die dit album bij mij oproept. Het is niet alleen een geweldig mix
aan stijlen – blues, folk, jazz – maar bovendien eentje die teruggebracht is tot het bot. Mijn eerste associatie die ik
kreeg was met het vorig jaar verschenen album van Eric Corday; Where the Body Is. Een minstens zo getalenteerde zangeres
die – net als Taylor – na een lange afwezigheid zichzelf hernieuwd manifesteerde. Tangerine is rauw en gevarieerd, is
soulful, is jazzy. Je hoort op Jerry Marotta (drums) na, uitsluitend Louise Taylor. Ze speelt gitaar en zingt
tegelijkertijd, en deed dit ook tijdens de opnames van dit album. Tegenwoordig een zeldzame combinatie, waardoor
veel andere albums al gauw onnatuurlijke klinken. Tangerine bevat 11 organische juweeltjes met een gemiddelde
speelduur van 4 minuten, en er zit geen zwakke broeder tussen. Nee, op Tangerine zal je geen zwakke minuut
aantreffen. Ervaring blijkt zo zijn vruchten af te werpen!
--- Tekst: Rein van den Berg
Rock and Reprise on 'Tangerine', May 2012
Okay, now I'm officially confused. The one-sheet bio that came with tangerine says this in the second paragraph-
“For tangerine, Louise laid down her acoustic guitar and picked up a Deusenburg hollow body to great effect,
creating a bed of tight, rootsy grooves, and open visceral landscapes.” I thought Deusenburg made cars. Shows you
how much I know about guitars. Should show you how much I know, period, but I do know some things.
I know that the sound on this album is bare-butt and sparse. I know that Louise Taylor writes some mean songs.
I know that this album has a far-away feel to it on most tracks, an end-of-the-night feel. An alone feel. A
lay-back-your-head-and-close-your-eyes feel. Even on the rock-y, bluesy tracks. I know that the first thing that
came to mind when I listened was Lester Quitzau.
In 2009, Quitzau put out an album titled The Same Light which had less of the same sparse feel, but a similar feel
just the same. It caught me quite by surprise, never having heard of him, but a surprise quite welcome. He tripped
around edges--- the seventies San Francisco jam band sound, the laid back blues groove sound, the early Eric Clapton
solo sound. One song after another, he convinced me and then reinforced the conviction that he knew something I
didn't. That he could almost feel something that I couldn't. Yet I felt it. I couldn't play it, but I felt it.
Taylor gives me that same feeling (well, the laid back blues groove part). With simple echoed electric guitar, she
makes me want to lay back my head and close my eyes. When I do, I hover somewhere between empty nightclub and
lonesome plains. I live in the moment and it is soft and marshmallow-like and comfortable--- oh, so comfortable.
Taylor makes sure. She sings with soul. She sings from within. And she echoes the feel of the guitar.
It is not blues and it is not jazz and it is certainly not country. It is music, but not just music. If she sang
jazz, it would be quiet lounge jazz. If she sang country, it would be lonesome ballad country. What can I call it?
White Soul? Groove Soul? Whatever it is, it has soul.
How it got that is an interesting story. She worked on this album with Peter Gallway and Annie Gallup. “I sent
Peter and Annie about 25 songs to choose from,” Louise wrote on her one-sheet. “They made an A list. I flew in to
Santa Barbara from my home in Hawaii for a long weekend to investigate, try a few things, and see if we could get
anything. I sat in their small living room with their two dogs on the couch behind me. Two amps in the linen closet,
Annie listening to my right, Peter on the board to my left, a view of the ocean through the French doors in front
of me. Good friends and fellow songwriters dropped in, good food was consumed. Most songs were the 1st or 2nd take,
captured between the neighbor's lawn crew's weed whacking and walking the dogs. I played and sang live to elaborate
click tracks that either my drum teacher, Jerome James, had made for me in Hawaii or Peter created on the spot. This
was a first for me because I've always recorded live with a drummer and believe strongly in the feel of live
performance. Miraculously, it worked. We got good takes. I was very surprised! I flew home to Hawaii knowing that I
had a CD. A week later a fellow collaborator and friend of Peter's, renowned percussionist/drummer Jerry Marotta,
was in L.A. working and vacationing. Peter asked if he would be willing to play on the CD. He agreed and arranged
to use his brother's studio. Peter and Annie drove to L.A. with the tapes and Jerry did his parts in a day. His
playing is jaw-dropping gorgeous! Jerry and I have never met, but this is modern times, and the ability of music
to transmute and communicate across space and time, and even commute across the globe, is undeniable.”
I remember when Jess Pillmore explained that one of my favorite tracks from her Reveal album started out as a
bluegrass song. When she was done recording, it had morphed into a walking jazz/blues poetry of an odd sort and
I had to laugh. Sometimes, the process is very organic. It sometimes is almost as if the music is there waiting for
the musician to catch up. So it was with Jess. So it is with Louise.
Tangerine, my friends, is damn good. Damn good. With all of the things people can do with music these days,
we sometimes forget how powerful the simple can be. Louise Taylor didn't, and Gallway and Gallup certainly
didn't. The result, I believe, is what the result was meant to be. We can all be thankful for that. Tangerine
is a knockout album. There may be a lot of knockout albums out there, but I guarantee there are few like this.
It's a grand slam. --- Frank O. Gutch Jr.
Direct Current Music on 'Tangerine', May 2012
For her sixth album Tangerine, Louise Taylor and producers Peter Galway and Annie Gallup opted for a dramatically
direct approach: keep her songs in a stark, stripped down but plugged-in form utilizing simply Taylor's expressive
voice, her trusty hollow body Duesenburg electric guitar and, in a stroke of divine luck, the masterful percussive
work of renowned drummer Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel). The exquisite end result is a collection of songs steeped
in late night atmospherics, both personal and powerful, an album that easily and firmly reestablishes Taylor as
one of our finest, if unheralded, writers and performers. With subtle, rootsy finesse, Taylor turns "China Doll"
and "Baby Hands" into sweetly turned blues gems while the raw, steamy "Morning Memphis" and "Riderless Pony"
veer confidently into Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and Sonny Landreth territory. For those who felt a certain kinship
with the latest from Bonnie Raitt, we suggest Tangerine as a tart and potent chaser. ---
Direct Current Music
Music Feature by Bill Livick on "Velvet Town", Sept. 2003
The most apparent and immediately striking thing about Louise Taylor¹s latest
recording, "Velvet Town," is her sultry voice. It doesn¹t take long to fall for her
minimal, jazzy folk songs.
Taylor says she has "always been accused" of a steamy edginess in her singing, for a
while she even tried to "corral" it, but Taylor¹s come to appreciate her vocal style
as an integral part of her talent.
"I think music reaches people from the inside out," Taylor says. "There¹s definitely
music that¹s headier and that goes more from the mind, but to me it¹s a sensual
experience; it¹s a physical experience when I hear music that I love. That has
something to do with the groove and it has to do with the lyrics and the delivery of
"I guess I¹ve always sung that way," she adds. "I started off singing that way and
then I thought it wasn¹t nice enough, that I should be more folky. I tried to corral
myself in there and finally realized that¹s just not me."
Taylor wrote all the tracks on "Velvet Town," her fifth album. Her latest songs are
less "wordy" than earlier work, she says, and arrangements are stripped back to create
more room, which she fills with acoustic and electric guitar and a rich voice.
"In the process of writing these songs, I just wanted the lyrics to be a lot more
sparse to allow for space for other things to happen," Taylor said in an interview
from her Vermont home. "For the sake of singing, I wrote deeper melodies and used
fewer words to allow space for phrasing and vocal tone."
Taylor and fellow singer-songwriter, Annie Gallup, will be performing at the Cafe
Carpe in Fort Atkinson on Sept. 14. Clubowner Bill Camplin says he¹s noticed changes
in many facets of Taylor¹s music.
"She¹s gotten a little more minimalist with her song writing and she¹s really learned
how to use her voice as an instrument," he says. "The first time I heard her she was
very good; the second or third time I heard her here she stunned me. She has the
ability to take you inside her music so far you are completely lost in it. That¹s as
good as it can get for a listener."
In addition to paring down her songs and writing deeper, more jazz-like melodies,
Taylor¹s switched from straight rhythm guitar playing to a finger-style approach. She
quit using a pick and has started playing "completely bare-handed, even on the
strumming," she says.
"I completely dropped the pick and a lot of these songs came as means for me to
practice that. So I would be playing along and then these melodies or grooves would
come to me. The music on "Velvet Town" was born out of that."
And for the first time in her career, Taylor has begun playing and recording some of
her material on electric guitar. She purchased one a month before going into the
studio to work on "Velvet Town" in August, 2002, and "I quick tried to learn it."
Playing electric guitar has given her sound more versatility, she says: "It¹s exciting
because it has more sustain. You can create a bunch of sounds and play really
differently on it. It¹s actually very easy."
The music on "Velvet Town" is simple, highly melodic and sensual. The opening cut,
"Something Like This," sets the record¹s tone in generating a deep sense of well being.
The first notes spring from an acoustic bass and accompanying percussion, followed by
a slightly hypnotic, soothing acoustic guitar and Taylor¹s warm voice. The title track
is uncharacteristic in that Taylor¹s pure vocals are accompanied by solo piano. The
song is pure jazz. "I was really pleased when I wrote it," Taylor says. "It really
got across what I was trying to say and it is a song of passion."
Taylor and her band stretch out a bit on the next song, "Call My Name," which features
lyrical images set to a buzzing, West African guitar groove. The album¹s grittiest,
most suggestive song, "Firebox Coaltrain," is spiced with Taylor¹s bluesy singing and
electric guitar playing, while drummer Dean Sharp lays down a locomotive beat.
"My drummer is a big inspiration for a lot of the changes I¹ve made in the last couple
of years," Taylor says. "He¹s a phenomenal percussionist." She says recording for the
Signature Sounds record label has also contributed to her professional development.
Initially, she recorded about 20 songs for the "Velvet Town" project - 10 that were
"clearly folky and 10 that were more in this jazzy style." "They really liked the more
folky stuff and I was liking the jazzier stuff. So we sorta went back and forth for a
while, and the songs grew on them," Taylor recalls. "Fortunately, I do get the final
say as to what goes on the record, because Signature is a small label, and they¹ve
been really supportive of me and believed in me for a long time.
"That (artistic control) is important because I wouldn¹t be able to grow and expand if
I didn¹t have the freedom to try new things and take some chances." That freedom is
also critical because Taylor¹s at a place in her life where she¹s able to give her
career undivided attention.
"My son is 19 and now I can be a full-time musician," she says. "I¹m just starting to
really pour myself into it. So there¹s a lot that I want to learn."
Boston Herald on "Velvet Town", June 6, 2003
TOTO, WE'RE NOT IN BRATTLEBORO ANYMORE: Vermont folkie Louise Taylor, who shares a
bill with Felix McTeigue at Passim in Cambridge on Wednesday, explores a startlingly
different sound on her new ``Velvet Town'' CD. With influences filtering in from the
flirtatious '30s and the beatnik '50s, the album is touched by swaying Latin rhythms
and an arty, experimental, sultry spirit.
Northeast Performer Mag Review By Danielle Dreilinger on "Velvet Town", 2003
When reviewers call a musician's lyrics "poetic," they generally mean that
the person writes in a flowery or descriptive way - phrases that detail
individual situations tellingly, or look good on the page, or sound good
coming out of the singer's mouth. Louise Taylor writes songs that are poetic
in a larger and deeper sense, like modernist poetry: floating fragments that
leave the listener to fill in the spaces. Taylor obviously pays attention to
her songwriting; she credits eight people with "editing and suggestions."
Folk gets criticized for navel-gazing, but Taylor's oblique compositions
sidestep confessionalism. The elegiac "Strike the Set" seems to allude to
the beginning of the end of a love affair. The standout track, gorgeously
atmospheric "Maps of Venice," places the listener squarely in Italy using
two simple, not-quite-related elements: a portrait of an Italian man selling
trinkets on the sidewalk, and the line "To feel the sun on your face little
one." The closest Velvet Town comes to a folk story-song is "Little
Collette," and even that clangs with discordant harmonies that match the
tale of a woman tired of being "someone else's story." (Taylor can write
poetically in the small sense, too, with pointed pieces like a man who
"bought her a Coke and a bag of chips / and said come on cookie / and
puckered his lips.") But then, this isn't really a folk album, despite being
released by the Signature Sounds label. Dropping the Celtic ballad
influences from Taylor's last album, Velvet Town inhabits a varied and
sonically fascinating universe of its own. It's not exactly any genre,
though it's likely to be called "jazzy" by acoustic fans and "folky" by jazz
fans. The album features Taylor's accomplished guitar work and superb
drumming from Dean Sharp: syncopated shaker on "Call My Name," a beating in
a paper bag sound on "If I Had My Dream," a hollowed-out rock beat on
"Midnight Rain." Most albums begin with their best songs and peter out
halfway through; Velvet Town starts quiet, hits its pinnacle in the middle,
and continues strong to the end. "Call My Name" knocks you out with its
mbire-replicating guitar part (produced by damping the strings at the bridge
with a strip of fabric). The brief "I'd Be Dancing" has a muted, twilit
quality that evokes Billie Holiday; in a startling transformation, it opens
up into the same-key, fully orchestrated "Midnight Train." The harder-- you
can't call it upbeat-- "Fire Box Coal Train" deconstructs train-song blues,
raising the intensity as it strips down to metallic drumming and electric
slide guitar--the little black sheath dress to Bonnie Raitt's bouffant
taffeta. Taylor's powerfully earthy, sensual presence winds through the
whole, balancing somewhere between contentment, jaded experience, and
yearning. "'Course I care," she sings, "that's what keeps me wanting." In
the past, Taylor's penchant for stretched-out phrases and off-melodies has
sometimes floated too far away to reach, but this time she tugs the listener
as surely as Ariadne held the string in the labyrinth. A beautiful and
starkly sophisticated album.
The Eagle Times By Gary Dutton on "Velvet Town", March 27th, 2003
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- Songstress Louise Taylor has struck gold again, turning
out another dazzling piece of work with her newest album "Velvet Town," a 13-song Cd
released March 25, 2003 on Signature Sounds Records.
With her latest effort since her widely acclaimed 2000 release "Written In Red,"
Taylor proves once again that she's as good as it gets. Not just the best female
singer/songwriter in Vermont, not just the tops in New England, Taylor can flat-out
play the game with the best of them, bar none.
Showcasing her deep, often sultry, always drenched with feeling voice and her
innovative guitar tunings, "Velvet Town" opens with "Something Like This," a song
reminiscent of vintage Joan Armatrading in a new Taylor classic.
From there, Taylor airs out her passionate voice on a dozen-song trip as good as
you'll find. More bluesy from beginning to end than her previous works, at times
she sounds akin to Cassandra Wilson other times like Bonnie Raitt, but always like
classic Louise Taylor.
There's a lot of smoky, after-hours bar stuff here, a great 13-song journey
ending with "Simplify" (not the Ani Difranco song) with both English and French
lyrics, a piece you can close your eyes and envision the artist singing while laying
atop a piano. That wouldn't be Taylor though, because it would preclude her trademark
Instrumentally, "Velvet Town" is largely acoustic with some light electric
string work. Taylor again makes good use of percussion instruments to compliment her
own six-string work, with a sharp final mix by Dean Sharp and Paul Antonell making
Taylor's newest Signature Sounds offering a must-have recording.
"Velvet Town" is available at your local record stores (forget the big box
outlets) or, if you want a great listen quickly, call Signature Sounds directly at
800-694-5354, log onto their Web site at www.signaturesounds.com
PASTE Magazine By Ralph Digennaro on "Velvet Town", Quarter 2, 2003
On the aptly named Velvet Town, singer-songwriter
Louise Taylor turns out a new collection of remarkable songs
at once lush, exotic, smoothly textured and downright sexy.
The record opens with "Something Like This" a catchy tune
that reflects Taylor's hook laden, spare phrasing and percussive
guitar playing. The title cut practically smolders in its slow, bluesy,
wee hours of the morning kind of appeal.
Self-produced with help from the multitalented Annie Gallup, Taylor
weaves beautiful, beguiling tales of the hopeless and forlorn, of love
lost and found--empathetic odes to those who exist on life's fringes.
In many ways the record continues the personal journeying put to imagery and
song that Taylor so masterfully achieved with Ride, her much-heralded third
record. But with Velvet Town, the Vermont songwriter brings a new
sophistication and eclecticism to her music, which reaches beyond simple folk
constructions and references such diverse musical idioms as African rhythms, world
music, blues and percussive jazz. Taylor's signature guitar work is front and center
on this collections of songs which represents a unique talent coming of age in
Pure Music interview with Louise By Frank Goodman on "Velvet Town", 2003
Some songwriters sit down to write today's version of what they do. Others
apparently pick up their guitar and consider "Where do we go from here?"
Louise Taylor is not inclined to jump through anyone's hoops, and is not
disposed to repeating herself. She is an unbridled creative spirit, with a
soulful and transcendent voice, and a rare feel for the guitar. Her sensual
rhythm on her earlier records and her fingerstyle approach on her later ones
embody a real connection to her axe. I've known people with fantastic chops
who still didn't seem inside their instrument. But Louise Taylor really owns
that thing, she rides it like a horse, she's driving it. (And what amazing
guitars she has! Louise is the de facto poster girl for the incredible Vermont
outfit called Froggy Bottom Guitars.) And her voice, it's coming out of the
person, the whole person, not just the throat or the lungs. You can hear all
she's been and all she's seen.
Velvet Town is her fifth record, her fourth for the highly regarded Signature
Sounds label. We covered her last release, Written In Red, in which she
ingeniously wove her lyrical folk pop roots with strands of Celtic music and
the Blues. (see our review)
In Velvet Town, the artist takes a bigger step yet. Her new batch of songs
take on a much jazzier and World Music personality. Her drummer
percussionist Dean Sharp was influential here, as Louise details in our
conversation. Along with helping her to appreciate the scope of her own
music through exposing her to new and far flung inspirations, Dean played
brilliantly and preproduced the project, and mixed the tracks with Paul
Antonell. Close friend and coproducer Annie Gallup was the third side of the
triangle. She was the experienced and perfectionist confidante that Louise
required to make the leap and land where she planned.
We think that Velvet Town is a great record, and an important one. I hope
exposure to it incites programmers and DJ's to widen their playlists and
acoustic artists to dig a little deeper for their music as well as their lyrics.
Continue on to the interview   "A CONVERSATION WITH LOUISE TAYLOR"
Barnes And Noble By Ronnie D. Lankford for "Velvet Town", 2003
Velvet Town is a good title for Louise Taylor's latest album, because it alludes to a style that extends
beyond typical singer-songwriter concerns. While a song like "“Little Collette" distinguishes itself with a
catchy chorus and Kristin DeWitt's harmony, the album's real difference--the velvet--shows up on pieces
like the title cut and "“Maps of Venice." The lyrics may say “singer-songwriter," but the colorings of the
soundscape are pure jazz with Taylor offering subtle vocals. Indeed, the deeper one delves into Velvet
Town, the more one suspects that she isn't a singer-songwriter at all. Many of the lyrics, as in "“Call My
Name," are impressionistic and spare, and Taylor relies heavily on vocal nuance and fresh arrangements to
get her emotional message across. The backing players rely on the same arsenal of instruments as most
contemporary folk bands, but the production creates rich textures that permeate the listener's senses. The
bass and acoustic guitar interplay at the beginning of "“Call My Name" draws the listener in before the lyric
even begins and then provides a steady, rhythmic motif that drives the song forward. Taylor succeeds by
creating a distinct style that is easy on the ears and filled with pleasing surprises. With a melodious sound
and consistently good songs, Velvet Town will serve as perfect listening for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
minor7th.com By David Kleiner for "Velvet Town", 2003
Louise Taylor has three fine albums on Signature, each different. She writes with
poetry and insight and sings with an appealing sultriness. More importantly, her
understanding of what makes a song swing sets her apart. Now, Taylor's set to release
Velvet Town, her boldest and most challenging record, a set of smoky café tunes with a
blues edge combining the immediacy of a live feel with careful studio production.
The lead cut, "Something Like This," opens with percussion, then bass, and finally
African-tinged picking on guitar. Taylor's intent is clear; groove is the impetus--even
when, as Taylor describes it, "The rhythm is a little akilter." It's not your typical
song about divorce. "If I Had My Dream" follows, with Billie Holiday-like notes sliding
one into the next. It's a poignant tune, written for Taylor's father. "Velvet Town,"
paints a distinct and melancholy portrait of Brattleboro, Taylor's hometown by the
river. "Call My Name" rests on a lick that sounds like Mississippi John Hurt playing
finger piano. It's a vivacious come-hither tune. "I'd Be Dancing," decidedly
undanceable, with vocals recorded through an amplifier for a retro sound, is as lovely
as a woman descending "from the top of the stairs/In a rush of chiffon." Ominous,
swampy strumming propels "Midnight Rain" and features some rather soulful cello from
Stephanie Winters (from the Nudes); it's all about longing, spooky enough to be a love
song from a ghost with a New Orleans sensibility. Taylor plays hot slide on "Firebox
Coaltrain" and sings as sensually as the nylon-stringed accompaniment in "Strike the
Set." The CD closes with "Simplify," stripped down but with ironically complex changes.
Taylor likes to end each album with "a precursor to what's coming." No doubt, whatever
is coming will be, like Velvet Town, intelligent, ambitious, and full of great little
By Lee Armstrong for "Velvet Town", March 15, 2003
A Room Full of Blind Men
Louise Taylor continues her evolution as an important artist. The sound of her new
CD might be described as "Bonnie Raitt unplugged," although it is distinctly Louise
Taylor. The arrangements are spare with each track distinct & excellent. Her previous
CD "Written In Red" was dark in tone. "Velvet Town" seems to have travelled through the
darkness and sits at that early twilight before morning, drenched in blue. The images
she uses repeatedly are of rain, sun & wind, natural elements reflecting the emotional
climate. From the languid guitar of the opening track "Something Like This," we know
Louise is not in a hurry. On "If I Had A Dream," Richard Gates' electric bass pulses as
Louise wails with such exquisite sadness, "A charade in a room full of blind men at the
carnival of fear." Eugene Uman's moody piano plays almost a minute before Louise's
forlorn vocal begins on the title track. My favorite is the perky "Call My Name" with
Dean Sharp's unusual percussion & Louise's percolating guitar putting a smile on your
face. "I'd Be Dancing" is a blue track (distinct from "the blues" -- this is folk
music), a little over a minute long. "Midnight Rain" has a military march rhythm about
a soldier and his wife, each who feels more safe in the arms of the other. "Maps of
Venice" articulates conflicting emotions, "His radiant optimism born of a long
accustomed desperation." "Muddy Hudson" is a pensive track while "Fire Box Coal Train"
has freight train rhythms & a taste of Louise's slide guitar. "Strike the Set" uses
theatre images to communicate a sense of loss, something ending & over. "Don't be
fooled; you're just deep in a dream," Louise sings on the jazz-inflected "Only the Wind."
"Little Collette" is a pretty ballad about a girl who likes other women's men. The CD
concludes with the sparse lounge track "Simplify," complete with a French lyric.
"Velvet Town" is a moody, blue, sweet, slow excellent set. There's not a great toe
tapper here like "Silver Locket" from her "Ruby Shoes" CD. The music is elegant; and
Louise Taylor has a smoky alto that'll warm the darkest night. Enjoy!
By Lee Armstrong for "Written In Red", March 13, 2001
Louise Taylor has one of the most expressive voices recording today in acoustic music.
At times her alto is reminiscent of Emmylou Harris. "Written In Red" is most often dark
in tone, but with a struggle toward the lighter side, one illuminated by love. Using
the George Washington story as a departure point, in the first track "Cherry Tree"
Louise sings that she cannot tell a lie. For the rest of the CD, she delivers what is
at times a painfully honest portrait of a woman struggling with the darker side of her
nature. "Over the Mountain" is a deceptively beautiful tune about "where the angels
play" and encourages us that it's "time to learn to pray," but these positive
sentiments are undercut by a sinister electric guitar that wails with a plaintive roar.
This is a brilliant track with a creative tension between lyric, melody & arrangement.
"Meet You here" musically downsizes to just acoustic guitar & Louise's world-weary
voice, "Living's lived up to my worst fears." The directness creates a musical honesty
that is breathtaking. With "Two Bends in the Road" we finally get a needed break with
happy guitar lines as Louise sings, "I never needed anybody so." "His Hands" is
lyrically inventive, recounting the attraction to a man because of the beauty of his
hands. "Miriam Bell" is a driving folk ballad about a poor girl used & discarded by a
rich man, not a happy love song. "Gunny Hole" has some very tasty electric guitar in a
song about a whaling town. Taylor gives about as boozy bluesy smokey barroom vocal in
the title track as you're likely to hear. Singing about what a little morphine can do,
the imagery that the closing sign is "written in red" makes one almost taste the blood
on the tracks. "My Dove" is a pretty folk tune with what sounds like a flute playing a
Gregorian chant. "Stubborn as a Gun" is one of the best melodies on the CD. Taylor
sings, "Somebody ought to point me in a new direction" because this road is the "way to
the blue connection." "While My Love Is Away" closes with a bright piano, a pretty
melody, and Louise's alto, about as beautiful and expressive as you're likely to hear.
As a writer, Taylor's lyrics are stronger than her melodies; but as a singer & arranger,
all combine for an impressive, honest musical achievement. This CD is on the dark side,
one of the best of 2000. Don't miss out!
By Mike Kettu for "Written In Red", August 11, 2000
Imagine a child having Bonnie Raitt and Greg Brown as parents. That child might be
Louise Taylor. Her latest cd,"Written in Red", is her very best work yet. Her lyrics
are dark , intriging, at times disturbing. Her voice has that smokey, chocolate sound
that never gets tiring. Her guitar is perfectly matched to the tone and color of each
piece. This entire cd is well written, beautifully performed, and well produced. It
contains some of the best new music I've heard in a long time.
By Patrice Webb for "Written In Red", August 11, 2000
A New World of Nuance
Louise Taylor is a complete original -a singer, songwriter, guitarist,and street poet
who sings of souls tarnished by life's rough edges. The CD combines a buoyant mix of
acoustic street blues with touches of folk and celtic soul that draws you in with such
powerful energy you can't get the people she is singing about out of your head.
Possibly one of the most freshly original releases of the year - a real find for those
who love their music original fresh and natural.
Santa Cruz Sentinel Interview by Nancy Redwine, January 31, 2002
Louise Taylor sings a diversity of styles, and does so in a voice not to be forgotten.
The "dusky" voice of diversity
Louise Taylor once faced a decision between life as a horsewoman and life as a touring
Lucky for us, she chose the road that leads her to Henflings on Monday night, after
opening for Chris Smither at Kuumbwa on Sunday.
Taylor, whose fourth CD "Written In Red" was released last year, weaves together the
musical influences of her immersion in the blues, travels in Ireland, her affinity for
the Appalachians, and a tendency toward Jazz.
Her voice -- called "smoky", "buttery", "dusky" and "as rich and vital as blood" by
reviewers -- carries shades of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, but
with an emotional resonance that is all her own.
Taylor talked to us from her motel room in Portland about Vermont and her love of the
Where in Vermont are you from?
Louise Taylor: I'm from Brattleboro, in southern Vermont. It was once a little hippie
town, but it's changed. The values there are community, land and enjoying a quieter,
There are a lot of local artists that hole up there and do their art.
How is Vermont dealing with the state of the world?
Taylor: The patriotic flare, with flags flying in the backs of pickups, was happening
for while, but I haven't seen it much since then.
A store that sells goods from India had a small fire set in it while they were opened,
and the whole community responded. That's the great thing about living in a small
community, the whole place comes together and stops that kind of behavior.
Do you like being on the road?
Taylor: I love it. I enjoy people. A lot of people feel uncomfortable in new situations
and with new people. I'm fairly flexible with that, so I don't feel so alone on the road.
I really enjoy being in front of different types of audiences. From one night to the
next it's very different.
How is your newest CD, "Written In Red" different from your previous recordings?
Taylor: "Written In Red" is more bluesy than the past records. I also brought in some
traditional sounds from my tours of Ireland.
I wouldn't say that the music is traditional, but I tried to write some of the story
lines as if they were traditional songs.
Being in Ireland, I really saw how much traditional Irish music has in common with the
blues. So I started fooling around with that.
Is the song "Miriam Bell" one of those songs with Irish influence?
Taylor: Definitely. That song was actually an exercise for me. I took the first line
and repeated it in the third line, and then I'd begin the next verse with the fourth
That was the formula I used to write the song. I'd never set those kinds of rules
before, and so it was fun.
Has learning fingerpicking changed your style?
Taylor: Yes. I'm delving deeper into melodic changes with songs.
I'm hearing things differently because I'm not just strumming a chord, I'm pulling it
apart. I'm more inside of the guitar.
Who are you influenced by?
Taylor: I love to read. Some of the books I've read lately are "The Shipping News" by
Annie Prouix and Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club". They both use language in a phenomenal
I've also been listening to lots of female singers from around the world, like Llasa,
who's from Brazil and Gloria Bosman, an African jazz singer.
What else are you passionate about besides music?
Taylor: Gardening. You can't garden in Vermont in the winter, which is good for me.
It's the time of year I'm allowed to rest.
And horses, I was very into horses for many years, but I gave it up so that I could
tour as a musician. That was hard to do.
Pure Music For "Written In Red"
music seems to incorporate so much of their very essence that commentary
upon it feels almost inappropriate. It's right to listen, and listen again.
Right to feel, and consider things, no more about them than about yourself.
What is it, I wonder, about this record I've been listening to for a few
days now that makes me write these words, instead of just doing a regular
The artist has a strong sense of herself. So many I've known are wrapped up in their
images, in who or what they'd like to be, or how they'd like to be perceived.
Portraying qualities, playing to the crowd, acting. That's entertainment,
as they say. But that's not what's going on here.
I'd put this CD more in the nourishment category than the entertainment category.
I feel better, and I feel more, when I listen. Not because it's some kind
of good time music, which it's not. What it is is many shades of blue,
thoughtful and deeply felt. Louise Taylor's voice comes from such a deep
place, surely that's her soul. And it's speaking to mine.
Ray Bonneville's genius for country blues resonates on the record. He co-wrote and played
on "Cherry Tree," the opener. That song and Ray's composition "Two Bends
in the Road" are two of the best groove tunes on the disc. Tronzo's slide
work is inspired, he's a killer. There are also Celtic strands in the
tapestry. Louise found the trap door between Celtic music and the blues
But by far, my favorite tunes on this profound disc are the atmospheric numbers,
"Written in Red" and "His Hands." In these two songs, Louise Taylor stands
alone, and is a treasure. This is the thinking, feeling, person's blues
record, and it's a beautiful work. -- (Frank Goodman)
At The Shore / The Sounding Board
Somebody alert Bonnie Raitt, her voice has been stolen. That's the thought that
springs immediately to mind when first listening to Louise Taylor's spare, bluesy
"Written In Red." Like Raitt, Taylor has a husky growl of a voice that gives men
goosebumps and probably makes most women wish they'd started on a regimen of harsh
whisky and unfiltered cigarettes ages ago.
And like Raitt, Taylor knows how to put her instrument to use, moving it front and
center of most songs and backing it up with the least possible accompaniment. Luckily,
the songs are strong enough to stand up to this treatment. Taylor has penned most
of the tracks on the disc, and on the ones she hasn't written, the singer proves she
knows how to pick her material.
This isn't the kind of disc you'd want to put on at a party, but after giving this
disc a listen, that will probably be the only time you'll want to take this disc
off the turntable. -- (Steve Cronin)
Signature Sound Recordings' Review
If awards were given out for smoldering sensuality in the music of female
singer/songwriters, Vermont-based Louise Taylor would have a mantle full. The
narratives on Taylor's latest Signature Sounds album, Written In Red,
are rich with the emotional intensity of full-grown womanhood - and Taylor delivers
them with all of the keen insight, worldly wisdom and survivor's pride that richness
Combining poetic sophistication with a husky, powerful voice that thrives on bluesy nuance, a
deft mastery of the acoustic guitar and an enigmatically commanding stage presence, Taylor's
live and recorded performances offer listeners a compelling image of a unique modern troubadour.
Many of the songs on Taylor's previous albums were shaped by her extensive travels throughout
the U.S., first as a teenage street musician and then as a touring recording artist.
Written In Red reflects Taylor's continued openness to new
cultural influences, drawing on impressions from three tours of Ireland she has made
since the 1997 release of her Americana-charting third CD, Ride.
"I'm constantly trying to cover new ground, and my focus has shifted somewhat as a result of
my travels in Ireland," said Taylor. "Some of my recent lyrics are based on Appalachian
storytelling, and the instrumental arrangements blend my original bluesy style with Celtic
Taylor, who leads workshops in creative songwriting, said she found Irish audiences to be her
soul mates in appreciation of good storytelling. "The fact that stories are such a big
part of Irish culture and tradition means that even in the pubs, people listen differently than
they do in the U.S. They're educated to lyricism, and they really attend to poetic content."
With finely-crafted lyrics that often verge on the cinematic, the songs on
Written In Red deserve no less than that
quality of attention. Their portraiture is enhanced by atmospheric musical
arrangements that not only accompany, but actively participate in, the storytelling.
"Stubborn As A Gun," a freeze-frame of two lovers stuck in old patterns that will
ultimately be the downfall of their relationship, is marked by a repetitive three-note guitar lick
that keeps climbing hopefully out of its own rut, only to slip back down again. The passion
underlying the formal ballad "My Dove" is revealed by sinuous flute lines and primal
percussion that give it a hypnotic Middle-Eastern feel. "Miriam Bell," which puts
a jazzy spin on a traditional Appalachian tale of class, sex, and murder, has a rhythmic drive
through which one can almost hear the pounding heart of its heroine.
Taylor's ability to capture emotional complexity in a few short stanzas shines most brilliantly
in two songs that form the chronological bookends of a relationship's course. With startling intimacy,
"His Hands" evokes the time-stopping tenderness and heightened physicality of those first
moments when two people join their bodies and emotions, histories and fates.
In contrast, "Written In Red" depicts the final throes of a troubled relationship as
closing time in a neon-illuminated brawl-hosting bar, where capitulation, regret, forgiveness,
exhaustion, and relief mingle in a soundscape so vivid one can smell stale beer and lingering
Taylor's new album was primarily recorded at the Signature Sounds studio in western Massachusetts,
and was co-produced by Peter Gallway and Taylor. The basic instrumentation of guitar, bass and
drums is embellished by contributions from guest artists including flutist Joannie Madden of
the Celtic band Cherish The Ladies.
Taylor said she feels especially proud of Written In Red
because the album represents the culmination of two new challenges she gave herself
as a songwriter: to externalize the blend of blues and Celtic sounds she was hearing
in her head, and to craft lyrics with an enhanced consciousness of storyline and structure.
"When your past work has been received enthusiastically, it's tempting to 'play it safe'
by identifying a formula in that music and recreating it," said Taylor. "But even though
I have a basic style that serves me well, the fear of becoming stagnant really sparks my
creativity. For me, continually striving to grow is the most exciting aspect of songwriting."
Harmony Records Review
A PASSIONATE SINGER WITH A RICH, SENSUOUS AND WARM VOICE, SHE BRINGS A SPIRITED
SILENCE INTO THE ROOM IN THREE SECONDS FLAT
When Louise Taylor reaches within herself to express a song, the world seemingly comes
to a halt. A passionate singer with a rich, sensuous and warm voice, she brings a
spirited silence into the room in three seconds flat, captivating her audience with an
undiluted rhythmic force. Louise is a fiery foot stomper who learned how to exert
musical prowess as an unamplified street musician, riding her song on a strong beat
and a tight groove. She dabbled in African polyrhythmic druming and brought this
influence into her accomplished guitar style. As she slips into a transfixed state,
eyes closed, gently swaying as she sings, the audience is embraced by buoyant melodies
- fresh and eminently listenable.
As a songwriter confident in her artistry, Louise Taylor moves you in a deep way --
with intensity and sweetness. Her music is inherently sincere, drawing on her
multifac- eted life experience for sustenance and inspiration. She juxtaposes
simultaneous truths -- power and vulnerability, hope and fear, danger and security,
pain and comfort. Louise Taylor herself has done some hard living, and her songs
mirror the elation and hardships of early independence. She picked up the guitar at
age twelve and by the time she was sixteen left her home in Vermont and moved to
Florida; a young musician and artist playing music for spare change on the boardwalks
of Key West. For years she's traveled, never stopped rambling around. She has
experienced the deprivation and strangle- hold of poverty; the toil of hard, menial
work, and tri- als of being a responsible single mother. Through it all she's remained
true to her music, living, growing, and lovingly raising her son. It's easy to see why
her music is more emotional than mindful, the expression of a mature artist more
involved with what her songs say than what rewards they will bring her.
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange, 2001
Success changes people. It doesn't have to be hitting the top of the charts either,
sometimes a few more copies sold does the deed. In the case of Vermont-based Louise
Taylor, it helped her to tour Ireland. She not only found a new audience, but it also
made her appreciate the country's rich tradition for good music and storytelling.
With 'Written in Red', she found the good side of success!
Taylor is a blues-inspired Americana artist. New to her are the Celtic influences,
audible not only because Joanie Madden of Cherish The Ladies plays the whistle on a
few tracks here, but, the songwriting style itself. The results are sophisticated
melodies and lyrics. Taylor's three earlier efforts prove that she was always an
above average artist. But what she has managed now, is to take her art to a new level,
getting closer to the ultimate aim of one's own masterpiece.
Her slightly husky vocals take up Bonnie Raitt's panache and Carole King's passion for
melodies. Canadian Ray Bonneville, a master of slow folk blues is a major influence on
her guitar playing. With this she proves taste, as well as, willpower to learn from
the right people. Their collaboration on the song Cherry Tree is one of the
highlights; a steaming number with fierce harmonica and a gritty beat. The ballad "His
Hands" moves with the quiet flow of a slow river. Listen closely and its gentle beauty
will hypnotize you. 'Miriam Bell" is a murder ballad that could come from the Lomax
collection, but the tale about deception, love and death is all Taylor's. That song
picks up the musical threads of the British folk rock band Pentangle, fusing
intricate jazz feelings and the lighter music of the mountains.
One only can wish Taylor a lot of success with Written in Red. If the theory holds,
that her music only profits from each release, then her next CD should rocket! Only
the sky will be the limit. -- (Michael Gasser)
Music Reviews Quarterly
You can hear Louise Taylor's confidence growing with each new release. Her 1997
release Ride was a fine recording ("Blue Norther" from that release was included
on a previous MRQ compilation), but Written in Red surpasses Ride not because of
any huge stylistic changes but because of Taylor's increased confidence.
Between Ride and Written in Red, Taylor made three tours of Ireland, a country where
good singer/songwriters are appreciated perhaps more than in typical American venues.
Only she knows if those tours gave her the calm surety she shows here, but something
The artist in Louise Taylor has found new ways of using pacing, tonal quality, and
musical white space to advantage. Here she is no hurry to tell a particular tale with
the beats coming as slowly and steadily as a pulse settling down for a meditation
session. This does not mean at all that Taylor is some mellow acoustic folkie;
instead she has forged a blues folk mixture with an impressively mature substance to
it, all circling around a patience that holds it all together with a magical weld.
Her voice catches the paces and rolls with them, moving up and down gently, and the
dynamics come from stretching and condensing the spaces around the notes and filling
and emptying spaces with tonal inflections. Like the best guitarists who can take
standard runs and make them sound unique with artistic phrasings, Taylor comes into
the blues and folk conventions and makes them special with her own artistic touches.
She drifts with wonderful ease through vocal lines, as if she owns the very notes she
is singing. The lines become perfectly natural extensions of the whole song and even
Taylor herself, and that's the goal all performers hope to achieve in their work.
The instrumentation is primarily acoustic, and the degree to which the players find
force and tension with their acoustic instruments removes a need for electric guitars
to invest some bite into the work. Some electric guitar work does appear, but it
simply adds another texture rather than punching up some otherwise gentle work;
Written in Red is smooth and patient, but it is not gentle by nature. Instead it is
tight, focused, and quite intense for all of its slow steadiness.
As a whole unit is how Written in Red works best. Each song works, but it's the
complete package that most impresses. It is a languid roaming through a slightly
dark, slightly peaceful, slightly troubling, slightly reassuring landscape that feels
like it could be just on the edge of the horizon you are currently observing.
Written in Red is home and Oz in one equally enduring package.
The Graham Weekly Album Review, May 31, 2000
The proliferation of good singer-songwriters from the New Folk scene has
encouraged artists in the genre to experiment with combining various
influences. Although the music, by definition, is focussed on the lyrical
content, adding unexpected stylistic ingredients can make the music much more
interesting. Sometimes that musical amalgamation can be fairly subtle but still
make for more absorbing listening. This week we have another of the numerous
New England-based New Folk artists who meld good intelligent songs with a
mixture of seemingly familiar influences that ends up sounding fresh. Louise
Taylor's new release, her fourth, is called Written In Red.
Louise Taylor is based in Vermont and started her career at age 16 when she
left home and set off as an itinerant musician and laborer. Over the years, she
has been connecting with ever wider audiences and finding fans among other
songwriters. Her plentiful travel experiences have found their way into some of
her songs starting with her 1992 self-released debut CD Looking for
Rivers, and including an album produced by Windham Hill Records founder
Her new CD, like its 1997 predecessor Ride was co-produced by another
New England folkie Peter Gallway.
One of the unexpected influences that Ms. Taylor has brought into her music
over the years is the blues -- and her previous album had appearances by
another bluesy folkster Chris Smither. This time, Canadian blues man Ray
Bonneville appears on Written in Red. Since the making of her last
album, Ms. Taylor travelled to Ireland and was taken by traditional influences
there, such that they find their way into her new CD in the form of some
pennywhistle and a lyrical style that hints at old Celtic or British Isles
tales. Add that to Ms. Taylor's often subtly funky guitar style and the result
is a singer-songwriter record on which the musical accompaniment is more than
just a backdrop for the lyrics, even though the instrumentation on Written
in Red is often rather sparse.
There are 12 musicians who appear on the CD at various times, but the personnel
on any given track is usually just a quartet or less, and some pieces feature
Ms. Taylor with only one additional player. Guests on the CD include two other
singer-songwriters, co-producer Peter Gallway and Wendy Beckerman, who also
contributed one song to CD. Adding the Celtic influence is Joanie Madden of the
group Cherish the Ladies. The result is an album than ranges from a kind of
folk funk to bluesy to Celtic. And in the singer-songwriter tradition, the
poetry of the lyrics is especially worthy, with Ms. Taylor weaving oblique and
sometimes allegorical narratives, as well as drawing on some traditional
influences for a musical murder story.
Ms. Taylor has an earthier voice than many folkies, but she is an appealing
singer, and uses that to advantage with especially on the blues-influenced
That sound is especially felt on the opening track Cherry Tree, done as
a duo with Ray Bonneville, who plays the harmonica and other guitar and
co-wrote the song with Ms. Taylor. The somewhat cryptic lyrics are a kind of
allegory for a developing relationship.
The following track Over the Mountain involves more of a band
accompaniment. The lyrics are particularly interesting with the song's metaphor
of the mountain capable of being interpreted as getting over any of life's
hurdles, perhaps even a the death of someone close.
One of the album's more intriguing tracks is His Hands, the story of the
night of a torrid relationship. The arrangement is simultaneously bluesy and
atmospheric. The performance by everyone, including Seth Farber on accordion,
One of two songs by others who appear on the album with Ms. Taylor is Two
Bends in the Road, by Ray Bonneville. The slightly gospel-influenced
accompaniment frames the lyrics about a somewhat complicated relationship.
The most striking track on the CD is Miriam Bell, which has all the
elements of an old traditional ballad -- sex, money and murder. It's the story
of a farmer girl who falls in love with rich nobleman and apparently kills him
for his money, but his will gives the riches to their illegitimate child. The
instrumental backing is appropriately ominous with a pennywhistle giving an
oddly Celtic touch.
Another song tinged with death is Gunny Hole the story of a treacherous
waterfall in which a number of children perished. The bluesy setting is also
rather unexpected but proves highly effective.
Also with some Celtic influence is My Dove whose premise is a love
affair that leads to a most unhappy marriage.
The title track Written in Red is performed solo. The bluesy ballad
recounts a life on the skids.
The CD ends with a song written by Wendy Beckerman, done as a jazzy waltz.
While My Love Is Away fits well into the rest of the album with its
interesting lyrics about separation.
Louise Taylor, over the course of three previous albums, has been attracting
attention in the increasingly crowded New England singer-songwriter scene. She
continues to tour extensively and also conducts workshops on creative
songwriting. Her new CD Written in Red should help her to gain wider
recognition. It combines great sweeping, often allegorical lyric writing with a
mostly acoustic backing that nevertheless spans styles from funky blues to
Celtic. Her sultry vocals and the all-around tasteful musicianship on this CD
make it both appealing and substantial listening -- the kinds of songs that are
easy to like the first time, and reveal new facets on each further hearing.
In terms of sound quality, the CD is generally commendable. The acoustic
instrumentation is well-recorded and for the most part, there is a degree of
space in both musical arrangements and recorded sound that allows the songs to
ebb and flow. But as is all too depressingly common, the dynamic range of the
CD is restricted, with the quieter acoustic tracks pushed to be as loud as the
band songs, undermining the arrangements and to some extent Ms. Taylor's vocal
New England has become a hotbed of singer-songwriters, with dozens of
worthwhile new releases emerging from the scene each year. Louise Taylor's new
CD Written in Red represents some of the best the genre has to offer.
-- (George D. Graham)
Rambles - Album Review, July 4, 2001
Louise Taylor's fourth Signature Sounds release, Written in Red, blends Celtic
influences and bluesy soul to create a standout recording that Taylor's fans have come
From the rhythmic harmonica-laced opening track, "Cherry Tree," to the jazzy final
track, "While My Love is Away," Taylor creates song after song that focus on evocative
lyrics and fresh musical arrangements. Many of Taylor's lyrics reflect her strong
storytelling ability, such as "His Hands," in which she paints a word-picture of the
love between a woman who's been hurt too many times and the man she falls for.
"Miriam Bell" is a Middle-Eastern influenced reworking of a traditional Appalachian
ballad; Taylor's use of traditional ballads as a basis for her music is evident in the
lyrical patterns she weaves, using repetition with subtle variation in this song and
others, notably "Cherry Tree" and "Over the Mountain."
These lyrical variations are served well by Taylor's distinctive voice, which possesses
a husky, smoky quality. "Written in Red" is a perfect example of an artist's vocal
style matching his/her vocal quality; too often artists try to sing music that just
doesn't fit them. However, Taylor possesses a voice that reflects maturity and wisdom,
a "been there, done that" attitude that reinforces the lyrics remarkably well.
These songs are all well-structured; the music never distracts from the lyrics. Rather,
they work hand-in-hand, as all good music should, with the arrangements providing
background and counterpoint to the story being told. The simplicity of "My Dove" is
grounded by a deep drum-beat and evocative flute lines, reinforcing the release promised
through the lyrics. Most songs feature a basic combination of guitar, bass and drums;
these arrangements are further enhanced by various other percussive instruments as well
as organ, piano, flute and accordion, among others.
What this all adds up to is a great album. Taylor has created new challenges for herself,
which she alludes to in the liner notes when she speaks of the influences traditional
Appalachian and Irish music, as well as her admiration of the musicianship of Roy
Bonnerville and Chris Smither. Written in Red proves that Taylor is up for the
challenges she sets for herself; this is one album you shouldn't miss.
-- (Audrey M. Clark)
Rambles - Concert Review, April 16, 2000
Louise Taylor at the Guitar & Pen in the Bronx, New York
Recently I had the pleasure of catching Vermont singer/songwriter and Signature
Sounds recording artist Louise Taylor (whose newest record, Written in Red,
is co-produced by Peter Galway) at the Guitar & Pen Café in the Bronx, New York,
followed by a house concert the next day in my home. I have sat close to some
extremely talented musicians in my years of writing about music and going to
concerts, but never have I seen someone so skilled and adept at blending voice and
guitar playing with such grace and articulation as Taylor.
"When we started the label, Louise was the first artist we wanted to sign ... way
back in '95. It continues to amaze me that she hasn't broken through to a larger
audience," says Jim Olsen, co-founder of Signature Sounds. "She is simply one of the
most soulful and original folkies out there. She's the kind of artist best seen in
Indeed. The sound from her ex-husband's (Michael Millard) custom-built Froggy Bottom
guitar was so rich and resonant during the house concert, I had to look to see if
she actually was plugged into an amp I didn't know about. (She wasn't.) But as
incredible as that guitar sound was, it was Taylor's fingering and fretwork that just
had me completely overwhelmed. She plays in a wide range of tunings, a la David
Wilcox and Greg Greenway, including some I never heard of -- one of which she admits
is "difficult to get into and even more difficult to get out of."
As a result, her movements and positions up and down the neck were intriguing and
complex to say the least. But she would also strum, finger, ring, slide, bend,
scrape, pluck, hammer and pump the strings for effects that seem to punctuate and
italicize certain words and her wonderful voice.
"Her 1997 album Ride is still my favorite album released on the label to date
and Written In Red is equally amazing," says Olsen. "I always tell people that
we're going to keep releasing Louise Taylor albums until the rest of the world
Indeed, the new record contains some amazing new songs, but one in particular,
"His Hands" (written for luthier Millard) has hooks that just pierce your heart.
I almost lost it completely, listening to her play and sing this song both in the
café and in my living room. Equally beguiling is the record's title cut, "Written
In Red," a soulful ballad that showcases Taylor's eminent strengths as an uncommon
singer and musician. Her voice here reminded me of the great jazz/blues singer
I could say I've yet to see a better woman guitarist anywhere. But the truth is I
think she is one of the best guitarists I've seen anywhere, male or female.
Certainly her playing is unique and as much a part of her appeal as that sultry
voice and intelligent, poetic writing.
Taylor covered songs from all four of her records, from the percussive and funky
"Angelee" to the bluesy "Too Tired," "Dangerous" and "Roll Away Car," to my personal
favorite, the hauntingly beautiful Texas lament, "Blue Norther."
Some day the world will indeed catch on to her very special talent. But for serious,
discerning music lovers may I suggest discovering Taylor for yourselves post haste.
I recommend her newest, Written in Red, but Ride is also a small
Like most real art of substance, Taylor takes more than a casual listen to
appreciate. All the subtle details, rich idiosyncracies in her work begin to reveal
themselves with each repeated listen, not unlike a great vintage claret. Kudos to
Jim Olsen and Signature Sounds for bringing this wonderful woman to us.
-- (Ralph DiGennaro)