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Music Review: Otis Taylor – Clovis People Vol. 3

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Same people say they play the blues, some people pretend to play the blues, others fuse the blues with different musical styles and traditions.

Otis Taylor really plays the blues.

2009 found him releasing Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs,which explored the complexities of love. He has now returned with Clovis People Vol. 3, which is a very back to basics and stripped down album. He has created a sparse sound with a hypnotic style.

First, if you enjoy this album please note there are no volumes one and two despite the title. Second, The Clovis People no longer exist and their name was chosen long after they had passed away. Near Taylor’s home in Colorado archeologists discovered tools and pottery which belonged to an ancient people who inhabited the area 13,000 years ago. They were named Clovis because of the unique shaping of their tools and are considered to be among the oldest inhabitants of North America.

He gathered an eclectic group of musical supporters for the album. Foremost is rock/blues guitarist Gary Moore, with whom he has toured on three separate occasions. Moore does not dominate the songs but subtly fills in the blanks when needed. Pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell is on board as is his daughter Cassie Taylor who plays bass. Perhaps the most interesting musician is cornet player Ron Miles whose sound melds with the primitive rhythms of Taylor’s guitar.

“Rain So Hard” is the lead track and establishes the style and sound for what will follow. Pedal steel and cornet provide a haunting back drop for his guitar as his gruff voice explores his lyrics of betrayal. “Little Willy” continues his dark messages as it tells the story of a school shooting.

He lightens up a bit with “Lee and Arnez” which tells the story of the couple who lived next door to his parents when he was young.

By the time he reaches “It’s Done Happened Again” he has established the rhythms which draw the listener into his stories. It is raw blues at its best. “Babies Don’t Lie” continues this trend with a repetitive chord and lyric which force you to pay attention.

Otis Taylor continues to be one of the more under rated blues musicians working today. His songwriting ability and his guitar expertise are some of the best in the business from a blues perspective. Clovis People Vol. 3is Otis Taylor doing the only thing he knows how.

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