The Upshot: An album making an impact on the soul that will be felt until the end of one’s days.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
One of the few contemporary blues artists who builds on tradition instead of refining it, Denver’s Otis Taylor has almost quietly amassed a monstrously powerful body of work over the course of two decades. His distinctive style of trance blues, as effective banged out on a flat-top as filtered through an amplifier, has redefined the country blues on which it’s based, and given Taylor a versatile platform on which to voice his concerns.
Fantasizing About Being Black, his fifteenth LP, marks something of a return to an earlier style after several concept and experimental albums – it’s most reminiscent of records like The Truth is Not Fiction and White African. Which means that, whether he’s bashing the pain against the head of a banjo (“Banjo Bam Bam”), the soundhole of an acoustic guitar (“Tripping On This”) or the strings of his no-doubt battered electric axe (“Jump Out of Line,” “Hand On Your Stomach,” “Walk On Water”), Taylor finds a simple rhythm, a classic riff and a menacing progression and drives the lot past repetition into mantra. Though he leavens the tunes with fiddle and trumpet here and there, the focus is almost purely on his voice and guitar, which is all Taylor has ever needed.
Like all of his best work, Fantasizing About Being Black makes an impact on the soul that will be felt until the end of one’s days.
DOWNLOAD: “Hand On Your Stomach,” “Walk On Water,” “Banjo Bam Bam”