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James Michael Taylor "Slaughter Mountain" (Independent 2006)

Occasionally brilliant, sprawling, self-indulgent mess of a record.

Equal parts traditional folk, gospel and spoken word, ‘Slaughter Mountain’ is an eccentric family album of Christmas mornings, disease, funerals and highschool yearbooks that unfolds like a twisted altcountry musical. Self-indulgent, archly theatrical, overly sentimental and gimmicky in the extreme (it opens and closes with the sound of tractor engine) it is also ambitious and original so, if you can stomach the schlockier archly theatrical moments (of which there are many) you might notice the finer, sensitive moments like the cracked vocals in ‘Hickory Stix’, the Kottke-ish instrumental ‘Sunlight on Spider Webs’ and the heart-tugging doo-wop of ‘Oh Jimmy’. Despite the home-made cover of a pair of coal miners and the blue-collar grit of the lyrics, Taylor recorded all of this on his computer with drum samples so, again, it is an album of peculiar contradictions. Not many albums draw as much from Queen as they do Woody Guthrie but part of Taylor’s appeal is his eclecticism and his originality and, on those points alone, this man deserves an audience. Whether that audience will be slumped on a barstool or queuing up outside Carnegie Hall is yet to be seen.

Date review added:  Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Reviewer:  Robin Cracknell
Reviewers Rating:
Related web link:  artist's website


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