…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.
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
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?