Livingston Taylor: Here again, better than ever
Just like the man himself, who regularly tiptoes on and off the Island, Livingston Taylor quietly released, "There You Are Again," his 15th CD, and quite possible the richest collection of his original songs.
If there is a theme to this album it is resolution: lessons learned and the transitions that lead to a sense of peace and calm.
With its contagious melodies and rhythms, "There You Are Again" begins gently with "Best of Friends," a catchy up-tempo conversation that braids his voice with Carly Simon's - just one of the musical legends lending talent to the project. "Ooh, together we're a pipe dream," they sing, "All lit up and smoking 'bout all the things we'll do...."
Saxophonist David Sandborne is featured on "Tuesday's Lullaby," along with Gary Burton on vibes, and strings from members of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Andre Crouch did the choir arrangements and conducted New Day Jubilee Choir on "Step by Step." Vince Gill joins in on "Wish I Were A Cowboy." Brother and sister James Taylor and Kate Taylor along with Pam Tillis add their seamlessly blended voices to Livingston's on, "There I'll Be," another sweet and easy celebration of steadfast relationships and simple pleasures.
But the clear sound, from dulcet to praise-the-Lord rousing, is pure Taylor. It is his warm presence and intimate style that infuses this latest release. Produced by Glenn Rosenstein for Coconut Bay, a division of Chesky Records, mixed by George Massenburg, the CD was primarily recorded at Paragon Recording Studio in Nashville, some tracks being assembled separately piece by piece.
"There was a lot of traveling around," Mr. Taylor says, explaining that it took 14 months to complete the CD. Ms. Simon recorded at Jim Parr's Oak Bluffs studio, brother James Taylor was in Boston, and Mr. Sandborne in New York City.
In a phone conversation, the busy 55-year-old composer/performer admits that while he's pleased that "There You Are Again" appeals to younger listeners, the audience he had in mind when he wrote the CD was in their 50s. "I like records that were made 30 years ago," he says.
Although the 12 new songs in this latest collection are not biographical, Livingston acknowledges his ability to step into his characters' experiences, however different from his own. "But the sensibilities are my own," he says. "This project was fun," he adds. "The songs just started coming. One of the things that's important is patience. I write a song step by step."
Well known to Islanders, Mr. Taylor - an Island resident when his schedule allows- is the youngest of the five gifted Taylor children: James, Alex, Hugh, and Kate. Born in 1950 in Boston, the son of Ike (former dean of the medical school at the University of North Carolina) and longtime Islander Trudy Taylor, he grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
One of the first artists to sign with Capricorn Records in 1970, Mr. Taylor went on to then record "Three Way Mirror" (1978), and "Man's Best Friend" (1980) for Epic. The former host of a 1980s nationally syndicated television show, This Week's Music, he continues writing, composing, recording, and adding to his total of up over 4,000 live performances, Mr. Taylor is a professor at The Berklee School of Music, and an artist-in-residence at Harvard College. In 2000, he wrote "Stage Performance" (Pocket Books) - also the title of the class he teaches at Berklee - on how to keep an audience captivated.
Livingston Taylor in concert, Saturday, July 22, 8 pm, at the Tabernacle in the Oak Bluffs Campgrounds. This is his only 2006 Island concert.