(Not So Lone) Stars Come Home
The Fort Worth Weekly wins a constellation of awards.
In addition to the first places the most of any newspaper in the state the paper brought home second-place honors for Associate Editor
Anthony Mariani in the commentary and criticism category for his review of local singer-songwriter James Michael Taylors most recent album...
Weekly - June 13, 2007
Prolific Poetry - Fort Worth Weekly
Counter Clockwise CD review - Fort Worth Weekly
Slaughter Mountain CD review - Fort Worth Weekly
Slaughter Mountain CD review - Americana UK
Slaughter Mountain CD review - CD Baby
2006 Best of Fort Worth Weekly edition - Free Spirit
Namedropper James Michael Taylor
This is perhaps JMTs most accessible CD. The delivery is straight forward and not bound up with layers of production as many of his past CDs have been. On Namedropper you can hear JMT with all the honesty, pain and glory of his relationships with folks, most of whom I assume (possibly wrongly) are real. Fictional or not, the depth of the characters and the view of the narrator will often make you cringe and squirm in your seat. JMT lives in a land of honesty, one that few of us can imagine or even tolerate. JMT is always a poet first, awkward phases be damned. His images are rich with subjective detail; some much like minimalist pencil sketches.
The world of Namedropper is troubled and desolate. Populated by addicts, idiots, the homeless, barflies, drunks, the lonely and unwanted we are sucked into these hastily drawn pencil sketch stories. Their pain becomes ours and we live with them and mourn their mistakes. They are all as is stated in "Child of My Restless Dreams", "another soul thrown up on shore", flopping and gasping for air while slowly drowning in life and bad choices.
My favorites on Namedropper include "Asa". This song finds us having a conversation with a man whose wife has a husband but as he says, "trouble is, that husband ain't me". A self proclaimed "washer of windows and painter of walls", who seems to almost innocent of the twists, turns and oddity of his own life.
Another example of Namedropper's variety is Jonah, who "lives under a bridge" and spends his time "finding cardboard to burn up the hours and warm up the smoke in his eye." He lives his life like a human glacier watching the "world pass him by".
My personal favorite on the CD is "A Cloudy Day for Sonny". Sonny is the eternally easy barfly who will go home with anyone who says they love her. The chorus says it all "The boys are all tired and the fun is all gone. Who's taking Sonny home? Who's taking Sonny home? Who's taking Sonny tonight." This song sums up the whole of Namedropper, every character has been used by themselves, others, society and love. All any of them wants is love and respect but none of them get anything remotely resembling it.
If I have a complaint with Namedropper, it is the fact that all the characters seem to be drawn from a distance. We feel sorry for them for how we see them, but we never know what is in their head. JMT almost seems to be a God-like observer, forever reporting his observations but never judging. Letting the listener draw their own conclusions, but what does JMT think? Does he have an opinion. Perhaps we'll never know. He sure as heck won't tell us.
James Michael Taylor
His daughter suggested that James Michael Taylor do
a CD filled with name songs, so he did.
Released the CD, NameDropper with homemade liner notes. Put his picture, taken in 1975, on the front.
Taylor has been around the Fort Worth club scene and regional festivals since the 70s as a solo act or
playing with TXH2O ( a trio with his wife and, yes, his e-wife). He's a poet, sculptor, juggler, stage hand,
and backhoe operator.
Not long ago Taylor gave me a copy. A couple of days later, a guitar teacher in East Texas
gave me a copy and told me Taylor is a genius. A couple of weeks later,
a music fan gave me a copy and said I might like one or two of the songs. So, it must be time to review it.
The songs are acoustic and personal all but one based on the lives of people he knew or knows by
name; one, "Jonah," is about a homeless man whose name he doesn't know. Taylor's voice is haunted by
something, perhaps reality and experience as he sings about what often goes unspoken, about futile lives,
about a woman who's hardly gone when she leaves, about the realization that "Hello" lasts forever while
"good-bye" is a passing thing, etc.
It's a pretty good serious listen in the American folk tradition. Like most CDs it's never going to top
anybody's chart or sell a million copies. And, as someone once said, so it goes.
-Tom Geddie - Buddie Magazine - March 2007