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What’s Right is Right

27 Jan

…and what’s fair is fair. 

While I was a HUGE Taylor Hicks fan when he was sporting that lovely paisley shirt, purple velvet jacket and getting funky on American Idol a few years ago, I lost interest after a while.  His over-produced, Idol infused “debut” CD, the obvious malfunctions in his marketing and the insaneness of the online “fan wars” caused me to put some distance of my own between me and the Silver Fox. 

Also, the whole Grease thing really shattered my illusions of the nitty, gritty, “real”, all about the music, soul singer.  I had envisioned Taylor with the likes of Marc Broussard, Norah Jones, Widespread Panic and Grace Potter, not prancing around in a teased up pompadour singing Beauty School Drop Out.  While I still don’t like the move, it appears that the Teen Angel part has kept him out in the public.  In the summer, he released Early Works, full of older pre-idol material that was self-produced and had limited distribution, mainly via Target.  Not sure of the exact count, but let’s just say that it didn’t storm up the Billboard charts. 

Taylor has been working on a new CD, titled The Distance.  It will be released via Taylor’s Modern Whomp Records and distributed via the indie-promotiong Artists2Market.  While quite a challenge to go it alone, Taylor has asserted that this CD will be a true representation of his music, without interference from “others”.  So, today the first single from The Distance drops — a smooth, easy tune called What’s Right is Right.

taylor-hicks

Click HERE to listen to What’s Right is Right

As much as I may have seen Taylor, and his music through rose colored glasses previously, the pendulum swung hard the other way over the last two years with my disappointment in the music (or lack thereof) of Taylor Hicks.  Where was the John Mayer collaboration?  The Ray Charles studio session?  A Muscle Shoals revival?  The Yabba Dabba Soul Patrol Mojo Dive Tour, for Christ’s sake? 

However, lately, I have wondered if I have simply been too hard on poor Taylor.  After all, his was an uphill climb out of the chute.  Not really Country, not really Alternative Rock, not really any specific “genre” for the suits to throw him in.  While he certainly made missteps and was, at times, lazy…did I throw the baby out with the bathwater?  I decided to really give this new CD a try.  So, I have started with What’s Right is Right

While there’s nothing here that will set the world on fire, the song is good.  It’s James Taylor-esque to me, with simple instrumentation and vocals I can actually hear.  Not sure that he’ll get much radio play on anything other than Adult Contemporary stations, but I don’t think that’s the point.  James Taylor has had VERY few “hits” over his career, yet is certainly a respected musician and singer.  If you can make money pleasing a fan base, over time, you will be able to sustain yourself and leave a lasting legacy.  I like What’s Right is Right and I think that I will like the rest of the CD that drops March 10th, 2009. 

 The track listing is promising, with a little of something for everyone. 

Wedding Day Blues
Seven Mile Breakdown
What’s Right Is Right
Woman’s Gotta Have It
New Found Freedom
The Distance
Nineteen
I Live on a Battlefield
Maybe You Should
Once Upon a Lover of Mine
Keepin’ It Real

There is a potential solid Country hit in Nineteen, along with one that I have a feeling will be a Music Maven hit — Bobby Womack’s Woman Gotta Have It.  I have adored this song since 1976, when my brother gave me my first LP album — James Taylor’s In the Pocket, arguably one of his best albums.  But THAT, my friends, is another story for another day.

If I may — give Taylor just one more chance and try to listen to this new CD without rose colored glasses or bias from unrealized expectations.  Try listening to it like any other emerging artist I might throw out there at you and then, we’ll give it a proper review.  Just keepin’ it real.

It will be available on Amazon, March 10th.  The single is available today on iTunes.  My Libra Dragons is predicting an American Idol appearance in mid-March.  Don’t they at least owe the guy that much?

 
31 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2009 in american idol, new releases, taylor hicks

 

Tags: , ,

31 responses to “What’s Right is Right

  1. itsallgrey

    January 27, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Personally, I can’t wait for the cd to come out. I don’t think the Distance is going to be his best song. Unfortunately, I am disappointed in this song. The vocals are ok, but I don’t get the sax just thrown in there at the end. It’s like they forgot it or something and had to throw it in to fulfill a contract.

    I think there are songs on it that he’s going to be able to do great covers on. *crosses fingers*

     
  2. cochem

    January 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I love both WRIR & Nineteen…and from what I have heard from the recaps at the 2 shows Martyrs & 20th Century, he does a great live version of WRIR, Woman’s Gotta Have It, and Hide Nor Hair….which is a Ray Charles tune…so maybe he did do it in Ray’s studio…I guess we will have to wait and see…He is suppose to be in People Magazine in February…maybe there will be a write up about that…I think this album will surprise many…

     
  3. caryl

    January 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I was at Martyr’s and I’m feeling optimistic. I really liked “What’s Right Is Right” and “Woman’s Got To Have It” live. My impression is that the new CD will be bluesy and soulful. I have the feeling “Nineteen” was a concession in an attempt to gain country fans. I like the song, but it doesn’t sound like anything Taylor’s done before.

     
  4. shrewspeaks

    January 27, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Somehow I just feel watered down…I will keep an open mind and listen again, but this single is not setting my world on fire.

     
  5. huckleberryfriend

    January 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Sounds very amateurish to me. I wonder if Taylor will ever record an album up to his potential?

     
  6. music maven

    January 27, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    At the risk of playing the “defender”, I have to say that the sax isn’t indiscriminant but more of a bridge and accompniment. I think that this IS going to be a representation of exactly who Taylor Hicks is.

    Huck — I think that this is 100% better than the last attempt and actually, very listenable. I think many are/were looking for the next Elvis and that just ain’t going to happen…

     
  7. shrewspeaks

    January 28, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Whoa…next Elvis? Not to disagree with ya my compadre, but I was just looking for the guy who sang Sam Cooke, The Doobie Brothers, Ray Lamontagne, and Stevie Wonder with such passion and high octane joy.

     
  8. LISA

    January 28, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I’m not to crazy about WRIR but must say it has its hook because I find myself humming it through out the day.I can’t wait for this cd and have no doubt it will have a little bit of everything for the vast array of music hounds.One thing is very clear so far about it,his voice is front and center and whooo-ing me already.

     
  9. music maven

    January 28, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I agree, Shrew. Per my post, I was looking for throw back soul/funk. I think, though, that the market, at large, doesn’t “buy” that — particularly from an “American Idol”. To stay relevant, we have Grease, “commercial” music, etc.

    Maybe he thinks the “soul” stuff paints him as a one trick pony. My take is that if that pony is GOOD, that’s the one you need to ride. Being a jack of all trades and master of none, typically doesn’t cut it, but perhaps it was his goal. What he used to be as “visual as possible” and attract fans on AI was the soul angle, which is what many of us liked. But, maybe his goal is past the music…

    I really can’t believe I’m actually talking about this again. I really just want Taylor to be like any other artist that I listen to/review. He’ll either make the grade or he won’t. One thing I know is that good music rises above all. So, if it’s good, it will get notice. From what I’ve heard so far, it’s substantially better than the J Records effort.

     
  10. morewines

    January 28, 2009 at 11:51 am

    What’s Right is Right is too poppy for me. I happen to listen to AAA
    stations. I don’t think any AAA stations will play this song. It’s an AC tune for sure. That means he gets stuck on stations that play Brittnay Spears, Maddona, Justin Timberlake, etc… I think you get my drit here.

     
  11. caryl

    January 28, 2009 at 11:57 am

    morewines: I’m confused. Educate me (and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way!) AC is adult contemporary, isn’t it? Are Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake adult contemporary? What is AAA? A radio station for road travelers? (haha)

     
  12. morewines

    January 28, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    “morewines: I’m confused. Educate me (and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way!) AC is adult contemporary, isn’t it? Are Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake adult contemporary? What is AAA? A radio station for road travelers? (haha)” Not quit, but it can be if your vehicle has a WiFi radio (they do make those).”

    Adult Album Alternative (AAA):
    Adult alternative
    Also known as AAA, this genre offers a hybrid of modern rock, progressive, alternative and classic rock music aimed at an older target audience that both modern rock and active rock.
    radiostationworld.com/directory/radio_formats/radio_formats_rock.asp

    Adult Contemporary (AC):(umbrella)
    radiostationworld.com/directory/radio_formats/radio_formats_ac.asp

    Mellencamp has something to say about this POP music stuff.

     
  13. morewines

    January 28, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    MM delete my previous two comments that are being held for
    approval please. I guess I can’t post comments with links.

    “caryl – January 28, 2009 at 11:57 am
    morewines: I’m confused. Educate me (and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way!) AC is adult contemporary, isn’t it? Are Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake adult contemporary? What is AAA? A radio station for road travelers? (haha)” Not quit, but it can be if your vehicle has a WiFi radio (they do make those).”
    Copy and past the links into your Browser.

    Adult Album Alternative (AAA):
    Adult alternative
    Also known as AAA, this genre offers a hybrid of modern rock, progressive, alternative and classic rock music aimed at an older target audience that both modern rock and active rock.
    radiostationworld.com/directory/radio_formats/radio_formats_rock.asp

    Adult Contemporary (AC):(umbrella)
    radiostationworld.com/directory/radio_formats/radio_formats_ac.asp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpqaekNRc2Q

     
  14. caryl

    January 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks!

     
  15. caryl

    January 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Nice choice of video, btw, to punctuate your feelings. Good job.

     
  16. music maven

    January 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Pop is very subjective. James Taylor is “poppy”. So are Colbie Caillat, Corrine Bailey Rae, Norah Jones and others. Hell, even John Cougar is pop.

    If he’d have come out with a nitty gritty soul, a la Ray Charles, CD would anyone buy it outside of a few music hounds like us? I’m a bit conflicted as I get the desire to be more wide and less deep, but a part of me says that you gotta be true to your school. To really expand on the metaphors…perhaps he needs to dance with the one that brung him.

    However, I go back to Taylor, the Wedding Singer. I have friends who attended a few weddings he played. At those receptions and bar gigs, he certainly played the soul standards, but alot of pop too. Perhaps that IS who he really is and some get disappointed because he isn’t what we thought he was. Perhaps the bent to old school Soul was to create a niche on AI…

    Looking at it objectively, I don’t know what he could come out with that would satisfy the “soul” crowd — of which I am a part. I think Taylor has a way to go as a songwriter and singer before he gets to a John Mayer or Ray LaMontagne kind of artist. Or if he can ever reach those heights.

    But, then again, just how many great songs are being written today? There just seems to be a drought for good songs. As for this one, it’s good enough. Again, for me, it’s very reminscient of James Taylor’s stuff. I am very encouraged to actually hear the voice and not have all of the instrumentation competing. I’m anxious to hear the rest…

     
  17. shrewspeaks

    January 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    The real singer songwriters of Ray Lamontagne or even Mayer status labor as part of the independent artist circuit, mostly folk based. Look at the likes of Ellis Paul or Lucy Kaplansky or Dar Williams. But you also have Rufus Wainwright and Josh Rouse and the Redwalls from the younger set.

    The real irony, which is larger than our grayhaired friend here, are there are more people out there singing their songs…deeply personal soulful performances that touch a specialized audience. If lucky, like Ellis Paul, you cultivate a following and sell some songs and call yourself a working musician.
    Very few are given the world stage to command and even fewer can maintain hold of it for longer than the nano-second of fame…only those who reinvent like Madonna or those gifted beyond comprehension like Dylan can command and hold on to the world.

     
  18. shrewspeaks

    January 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Whew…talk about tangential…forgive me.

     
  19. music maven

    January 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I feel like deja vu all over again…

    I’m actually putting together an Ellis Paul post, so THANKS FOR STEALING MY THUNDER!….I keed, I keed as it was actually you who turned me on to Ellis.

    I think the elephant in the room that we are avoiding is being “all about the music” or chasing fame. Recent actions (like Grease) suggest the latter. However, I just don’t know. When I watch something like this or this, I see passion and care for the music.

    Perhaps intimate settings are more conducive to bring out the verve? Too bad he can’t deliver that kind of intimacy to larger audiences and in his recordings. I think he was able to do it on AI and that’s what got him the win. I also think it’s why he’s a success in Grease. Now, if he could capture that in the studio and on tour…

    I’d just really like to see the guy get a little respect from the industry, recognizing he has to earn it. But have you heard Kelly Clarkson’s new dreck? Life Would Suck Without You is what sucks. Yet it rocketed from 97 to #1 this week. Why? Did she get back in the good graces of the biz? It sure ain’t because that record is “all about the music”.

     
  20. shrewspeaks

    January 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Oh man…I am so sorry. Ellis deserves the love I tell ya. (Putting thunder squarely back in Music Maven’s mighty pen)

    Now…we are really going at it…BIG fame of Machine Music or artistry…remember Before The Music Dies? I guess this is at the core of why I am disappointed with the Gray one…I actually thought when he said “I am all about the music” he meant it in the way Joni Mitchell does, or Dave Matthews or anyone else interviewed in this great documentary. And maybe at the time that was what he meant…then the machine says but you really can only ever have this and so…we have teen angel.

    Honestly, I don’t know why I am still beating the drum on my side too…I know you say deja vu…and I agree and I don’t want to stamp out hope. I guess this is my last grasp at caring for his music.

     
  21. music maven

    January 29, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I think you might be on to something. I think he was “all about the music” before and during AI. After, with all of the “possibilities”, he made some kind of pathturn to something different.

    It seems like he wants it all and I don’t think that’s possible. At the end of all this, I think he will end up where he shines…small, intimate audiences, doing soul, blues and acoustic sets. For now, I guess it’s “let’s make some dough” with “all about the music” coming later. I’ve still got optimism for this CD, but he will need some good breaks for it to catch on past the Soul Patrol.

    I wonder what Gray Charles thinks? Somewhere in Oz, behind the curtain, perhaps he has listened to the new single. No doubt he has an opinion.

     
  22. Basenji

    January 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I’ve been sitting here wearing out my laptop batteries with fingers hovering over the keys…

    12, 15 listens, willing myself to be moved, willing myself to feel it. Why do I have to convince myself? Why can’t I be swept away? Damn.

    I’ll wait to hear the rest of the album…

     
  23. music maven

    January 29, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Basenji! Great to “see” you.

    Even those who are no longer actively following Taylor (like me) seem to really WANT success for the guy. Unfortunately, I think that many are not going to stick around for “OK”. It needs to be grab-ya good. So far, the single appears to have registered an OK.

     
  24. Linda T

    January 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Great discussion so far.

    I’ve been thinking about Taylor’s evolution from “broke musician” to “working musician” to “entertainer and jack of all trades”. As his roles evolve, so does his music. What was once raw and organic and gritty has become smooth and sophisticated (hell, the album cover alone looks corporate to me — he looks like he’s been promoted from the mailroom to the front office lol).

    The question for me remains — is it possible for me to evolve along with Taylor? I’m not sure the answer is yes, just yet. I remember being completely bowled over by the pre-AI music and by his interpretations of the songs at live performances during the 2007 tour. Something happened to me on a physical, visceral level when I listened to him. It felt almost as if I was torn apart and put back together all in the course of one song. (“Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Russian Roulette”, “Happier with Him” from the Atlanta set, and “In Your Time” and “Heart and Soul” from the Nashville set are prime examples of songs that could — and still can — do this to me in a heartbeat.)

    Now, I have a different reaction when I hear the single. I don’t hate it, which is a relief. But I don’t have that visceral torn apart feeling either — it feels like it’s moved up from my gut and into my head. A pleasant experience rather than a life-changing one. Something to hum along to rather than be moved by. And maybe I’m different from you, MM — from an artist like Taylor who has a voice like he does, I think I want more deep than wide.

    I guess right now the bottom line is that I can’t count myself in as one of those who would be satisfied hearing him sing the phone book. The music has to be good, too. From what I see of the impressive list of musicians performing on this album, along with selected cuts on the track list, I’m hopeful that there will be something to grab on to and shake me up all over again.

     
  25. Sally

    January 29, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I have laughed as I’ve read the posts lamenting “I can’t believe I’m talking about this again”. I too was so hopeful that there would be post-Idol success in more of a soul genre. The first album was in my opinion mostly dreck but still I held out hope. Teen angel pretty much crushed me. I still cringe when I see pics of the pompadour and spangly suit (visions of Branson). Why I became so invested in his success I have no idea. It had never happened before. Now, after I thought I had moved on, I’m back again hoping.
    The titles on the new cd intrigue me. WRIR, while not a masterpiece is intriguing enough to me to buy the the cd when it drops. I did hear him sing Nineteen on some website who’s name escapes me currently, but did not enjoy it at all. Not a huge country fan to start and I detest songs with lyrics that depress me. So two strikes right there. I asked my husband to listen to it since he does like country music. His feeling was that while it’s an okay song, it isn’t a fresh subject and as such will feel not as relevant. I’m not so sure……it’s plenty relevant to people with friends and relatives in the military. But that is his opinion.
    I hope it does well and Taylor garners some respect and that he continues to grow as an artist. I don’t think super stardom is in his future but I suspect that that is just fine with him.
    I would love to hear GC’s opinion of the new offering. I so enjoyed hearing him opine on his old website and truly miss his outlook as well as his snarkiness. I guess the feds won’t let him out of witness protection. 😉
    And last, a long overdue thank you to MM. I visit the site often, never comment but always enjoy. Maybe I’ll come out of hiding more often now…..you know between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. when I’m not working, doing laundry, hauling kids to soccer, violin, algebra tutor, cooking dinner and all the other life stuff! 😉

     
  26. itsallgrey

    January 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    The question for me remains — is it possible for me to evolve along with Taylor? I’m not sure the answer is yes, just yet. I remember being completely bowled over by the pre-AI music and by his interpretations of the songs at live performances during the 2007 tour. Something happened to me on a physical, visceral level when I listened to him. It felt almost as if I was torn apart and put back together all in the course of one song. (”Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Russian Roulette”, “Happier with Him” from the Atlanta set, and “In Your Time” and “Heart and Soul” from the Nashville set are prime examples of songs that could — and still can — do this to me in a heartbeat.)

    Amen, Linda. That is exactly what drew him to me…and now, I’m just waiting for him to do it again.

     
  27. morewwines

    January 30, 2009 at 1:09 am

    “I wonder what Gray Charles thinks? Somewhere in Oz, behind the curtain, perhaps he has listened to the new single. No doubt he has an opinion.

    music maven – January 29, 2009 at 9:19 am?”

    MM he has been around recently. He had some videos posted on
    his Web site and some code to check for how many hits he gets.

     
  28. music maven

    February 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    That Gray, he’s such a killer.

     
  29. Akronnozzle

    March 9, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Most of the people who have posted here sound like the guys following Forrest Gump on his run across America and think Taylor is abandoning you to go shrimping. He’s a guy like the rest of us why are you condemning him for making a living playing role on Broadway. Have you given up your job for “the music” at least he’s trying to buck the system and do something different with his music it’s GOOD its not groundbreaking earthshattering he is not going to be placed in the anals of history along with Nostradamus, Ghandi or even Bill and Ted he makes good music so shut yo mouth open ya ears and enjoy the music…

     
  30. music maven

    March 9, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Dude. Chill.

    Fair or not, some people had an idea that Taylor was going to stay focused on “the music” and not succumb to the commmercial aspects of “the biz”.

    While I think that he has fought off some factions of that, the Grease thing was just screwy to me. I have commented on that whole fiasco several times here and if you look up Mea Culpa here, you’ll find a post that somewhat accepts the move.

    I will have more to say on the new CD and you are correct, he is just a decent musician with a decent voice. Nobody here thinks he’s curing cancer, ok? However, if someone has opinion on the topic posted, they are welcome to state it, just as you did. No call to tell folks to shut up.

     

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