Saturday, September 14, 2013

Otis Taylor - “My World is Gone”

by Phillip Smith

After a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert, Taylor and friend, Mato Nanji, were backstage discussing the history of the Native American.  Within that discussion, Mato, member of the Nakota Nation, uttered the statement, “My World is Gone”.  At that point they both realized what they needed to write about: the trials and tribulations of the Native American as it tries to retain the remaining bits of its culture.  That is what this album is all about.  Running the usual gambit of topics, My World is Gone touches on drinking, racism, lost love, and murder.  Just over half of the tracks, feature special guest, Mato Nanji, front man for the band Indigenous and member of 3 Skulls and the Truth, on lead guitar.  Mato is quickly becoming one my favorite guitarists to listen to.    

Otis has an interesting way of taking the blues and serving it up in his own very unique style, oftentimes transporting the listener into a trance-like state, with steady background beats and rhythms.  From the first and title track, “My World is Gone”, one of the collaborations with Mato, I am totally on-board with the musical journey which awaits.  In this one, Anne Harris adds a nice little folky presence with an ever-so-soft fiddle accompaniment.  In “Lost My Horse”, Tayor and Mato sing about alcoholism and the dire consequences that were the direct result.  In this song, a man whose father was a runaway slave and whose mother was a Navajo woman, loses his horse, his most important possession, due to drinking.  Soon after, he realizes it is only a matter of time before he loses his mind.  The history lesson continues in “Sand Creek Massacre Mourning”, recounting the despicable atrocities of the 1864 attack by Colonel John Chivington along with 700 of his troops on a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory. The song has a certain military cadence to it; the kind one would hear preceding an execution.  Taylor’s banjo picking combined with and Ron Miles cornet playing, gives this a little The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly touch.  

I love the infectiousness of “Huckleberry Blues”, as Taylor keeps a constant rhythm on banjo behind some really nice jazzy cornet playing by Ron Miles. Taylors strong and soulful vocals remind a bit of Isaac Hayes.  Other favorites include “Gangster and Iztatoz Chauffeur”, and “Green Apples”.  Both heavily doused in the washtub of trance blues,    have such an instant likeability.

I liked this album from the first listen, and the pleasure I get from it increases with each subsequent listen.

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