Matt Taylor has learned to play and sing hundreds of popular songs from the last 35 years, and such vast experience can’t help but influence and inspire one’s writing style. Add in the countless hours of playing intimate venues where he has honed his stage persona and you’ve got the ingredients for a very enjoyable album.
Wisely going with the sparse instrumentation of his live performances makes for a very tasteful and clean recording, leaving the songs to breathe instead of hiding behind a bevy of studio gimmickry. "All Circles Complete", the title track, is an excellent example: a friendly song that combines Taylor’s affable voice with a sunny folk rock shuffle that leaves the listener feeling all warm and gooey about life. “LoveShine” is a similarly non-pretentious song with simple acoustic guitar, voice and breezy flute accents. Light percussion and gentle vocal harmonies adorns the romantic “Fall Down With You,” a pleasant love song that captures the tender giddiness of spending an mild summer afternoon with one you love under the dappled light of your favorite tree. Also fun is “Cyntheanne,” an upbeat love song with Rob Ruppert on lead guitar, infectious handclaps and three intertwining vocal parts. The contrast is “Let It Go,” an emotional breakup song with simply Taylor and his acoustic guitar played in an early Zeppelin feel, singing bittersweet lyrics like “Although I tried to be him / I’m not the man that you thought you’d found.” “Bomber” features a plucky guitar, an uneasy rhythm and disturbing vocal harmonies in this stark anti-war song where Taylor reflects “It can’t be that easy to push the button.”
A few songs feature heavier guitar and drum kit and, while Taylor capably handles both the guitar and huskier vocals, they seem a bit out of place with the previously established relaxed James Taylor-esque tone. “Hand of God” is perhaps the most successful mélange of styles with a slight rock feel played on an acoustic guitar. The dark “Bridge” starts acoustically but soon adds heavily distorted electric guitar to the party, the overall effect of which is a bit jarring given the pleasant stroll of the previous six songs. Similarly the last track, “She’s Gonna Share You,” is a solid southern rock song with a strong rock riff but it seems just a tad out of place, even with Ruppert’s scorching guitar solo.
Overall this is an excellent album. Producer Jon Gillespie was able to capture the energy of Taylor’s live performances to the point where you can almost sense him feeding off an enthusiastic audience. To check out this album chock full of pop/rock gems anxious to escape into your humming repertoire, click over to www.matttaylor.biz.
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