ROCK & REPRISE.NET
Okay, now I'm officially confused. The one-sheet bio that came with tangerine says this in the second paragraph—- “For tangerine, Louise laid down her acoustic guitar and picked up a Deusenburg hollow body to great effect, creating a bed of tight, rootsy grooves, and open visceral landscapes.” I thought Deusenburg made cars. Shows you how much I know about guitars. Should show you how much I know, period, but I do know some things.
I know that the sound on this album is bare-butt and sparse. I know that Louise Taylor writes some mean songs. I know that this album has a far-away feel to it on most tracks, an end-of-the-night feel. An alone feel. A lay-back-your-head-and-close-your-eyes feel. Even on the rock-y, bluesy tracks. I know that the first thing that came to mind when I listened was Lester Quitzau.
In 2009, Quitzau put out an album titled The Same Light which had less of the same sparse feel, but a similar feel just the same. It caught me quite by surprise, never having heard of him, but a surprise quite welcome. He tripped around edges--- the seventies San Francisco jam band sound, the laid back blues groove sound, the early Eric Clapton solo sound. One song after another, he convinced me and then reinforced the conviction that he knew something I didn't. That he could almost feel something that I couldn't. Yet I felt it. I couldn't play it, but I felt it.
Taylor gives me that same feeling (well, the laid back blues groove part). With simple echoed electric guitar, she makes me want to lay back my head and close my eyes. When I do, I hover somewhere between empty nightclub and lonesome plains. I live in the moment and it is soft and marshmallow-like and comfortable--- oh, so comfortable. Taylor makes sure. She sings with soul. She sings from within. And she echoes the feel of the guitar.
It is not blues and it is not jazz and it is certainly not country. It is music, but not just music. If she sang jazz, it would be quiet lounge jazz. If she sang country, it would be lonesome ballad country. What can I call it? White Soul? Groove Soul? Whatever it is, it has soul.
How it got that is an interesting story. She worked on this album with Peter Gallway and Annie Gallup. “I sent Peter and Annie about 25 songs to choose from,” Louise wrote on her one-sheet. “They made an A list. I flew in to Santa Barbara from my home in Hawaii for a long weekend to investigate, try a few things, and see if we could get anything. I sat in their small living room with their two digs on the couch behind me. Two amps in the linen closet, Annie listening to my right, Peter on the board to my left, a view of the ocean through the French doors in front of me. Good friends and fellow songwriters dropped in, good food was consumed. Most songs were the 1st or 2nd take, captured between the neighbor's lawn crew's weed whacking and walking the dogs. I played and sang live to elaborate click tracks that either my drum teacher, Jerome James, had made for me in Hawaii or Peter created on the spot. This was a first for me because I've always recorded live with a drummer and believe strongly in the feel of live performance. Miraculously, it worked. We got good takes. I was very surprised! I flew home to Hawaii knowing that I had a CD. A week later a fellow collaborator and friend of Peter's, renowned percussionist/drummer Jerry Marotta, was in L.A. working and vacationing. Peter asked if he would be willing to play on the CD. He agreed and arranged to use his brother's studio. Peter and Annie drove to L.A. with the tapes and Jerry did his parts in a day. His playing is jaw-dropping gorgeous! Jerry and I have never met, but this is modern times, and the ability of music to transmute and communicate across space and time, and even commute across the globe, is undeniable.”
I remember when Jess Pillmore explained that one of my favorite tracks from her Reveal album started out as a bluegrass song. When she was done recording, it had morphed into a walking jazz/blues poetry of an odd sort and I had to laugh. Sometimes, the process is very organic. It sometimes is almost as if the music is there waiting for the musician to catch up. So it was with Jess. So it is with Louise.
Tangerine, my friends, is damn good. Damn good. With all of the things people can do with music these days, we sometimes forget how powerful the simple can be. Louise Taylor didn't, and Gallway and Gallup certainly didn't. The result, I believe, is what the result was meant to be. We can all be thankful for that. tangerine is a knockout album. There may be a lot of knockout albums out there, but I guarantee there are few like this. It's a grand slam.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.