BY MICHAEL TOLAND
The names may not be familiar outside of the alternative Christian rock scene, but there’s a lot of history in Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil. Taylor made a series of critically-acclaimed and, at times, controversial solo records in the 80s and 90s that both mixed and matched various rock styles and poked caustic fun at hypocrisy and hardened arteries in the church – seek out 1987’s I Predict 1990 and the lone album from semi-supergroup Chagall Guevara for some kool kix. Guitarist Jimmy Abegg played in legendary Christian alternative band Vector, as well as working as a session player and a visual artist. Multi-instrumentalist John Mark Painter was (is?) one half of eclectic duo Fleming & John, while drummer Peter Furler is the former lead singer of Christian superstars the Newsboys.
Having spent the past couple of decades making films instead of music, Taylor sounds refreshed and as energized as ever on Goliath. Provided with guitar-based rock that refuses to stick to one easily identifiable style, he unleashes his barbed wit and acidic vocals on the angular “Rubberneck,” the slow-burning “In Layers” and the skittering title track. The more groove-laden “Happy Go Lazy” and “Standing in Line” turn the knob down on the sarcasm and slash-and-burn, but Taylor hasn’t gone soft – the latter tune contains the striking line “I write songs for a jealous God.” Abegg, Painter and Furler paint Taylor’s backgrounds in a variety of hues using simple guitar/bass/drums colors, veering from jittery to jangly to jacked-up, before finally alighting on the lush anthemry of closing track “Comedian.”
Backed by a band with the perfect name for his distinctive music, Taylor reclaims his legacy with wit and imagination intact. Sounding as if he’s aged not one hour, he strides across the rock & roll arena every bit as vibrant on Goliath as in his prime.
DOWNLOAD: “Happy Go Lazy,” “Comedian,” “In Layers”