Louise Taylor,
Velvet Town
(Signature Sounds, 2003)

Louise Taylor's fifth CD, Velvet Town, is a marvelous record and a wonderful showcase for this talented New York singer-songwriter and her band.

Taylor says the album is a product of "espresso, red wine and late nights" -- and that pretty much describes the sound. It was recorded in an intense (yet clearly relaxed) three-day session at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, N.Y., with a group of experienced musicians that work together regularly. Velvet Town has that ideal combination of "live" immediacy and studio polish.

Taylor writes and sings with considerable grace and maturity, and she draws in the listener with honest, sensual lyrics and melody lines. In the title track, she sings "Leave the window open/The fan humming that cool melody/You're so fine/and I'm feeling lonely." That song, one of my favourites on the CD, features the beautiful piano of Eugene Uman, one of several fine players on the record.

The band also includes Ira Coleman on acoustic bass, Kristin DeWitt on harmony vocals, Richard Gates on electric bass, Ken McGloin on classical and electric guitars, Dean Sharp on percussion, drums and vibraphone, and Stephanie Winters on cello. Taylor plays 6- and 12-string, slide and electric guitars. Annie Gallup shares production credits with Taylor, and it's clear that the collaboration is based on mutual respect.

One of the most appealing elements of the album is its sense of place and mood. In "Midnight Rain," Taylor sings "Midnight rain come and wash the world away/she lay down in her damp bed/feels the baby's legs curled inside her womb/like a feeling she once had." In "Muddy Hudson," "I'll just let myself off here/Thanks for the ride/Take a midnight stroll under this stop sign/There's a miracle of stars out above the Jersey City sign."

Louise Taylor's facility with words is matched by her sense of melody, her ability to deliver a performance and her intelligent production. Once you visit Velvet Town you'll want to settle in for awhile.

- Rambles
written by Joy McKay
published 21 June 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.