Gary Taylor - Retro Blackness (2006)

Gary Taylor
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Gary Taylor has been doing the "indie soul" thing longer than just about anyone, and has shown that a successful career can be forged outside of the major label world.  And while his releases have generally celebrated love and romance, on Retro Blackness he instead celebrates a culture -- the culture of Black America.  So while there is still an awful lot of sensual romance on the disc, it shines largely due to Taylor's exposition on his brothers and sisters, a view that is loving and refreshing without being preachy or Pollyanna-like.  Taylor simply takes a path that is counter to much of modern urban music, a path of thankfulness and appreciation rather than cynicism.

Gary Taylor has been doing the "indie soul" thing longer than just about anyone, and has shown that a successful career can be forged outside of the major label world.  And while his releases have generally celebrated love and romance, on Retro Blackness he instead celebrates a culture -- the culture of Black America.  So while there is still an awful lot of sensual romance on the disc, it shines largely due to Taylor's exposition on his brothers and sisters, a view that is loving and refreshing without being preachy or Pollyanna-like.  Taylor simply takes a path that is counter to much of modern urban music, a path of thankfulness and appreciation rather than cynicism.

Musically, Retro Blackness bears a number of fine, memorable compositions.  The album (particularly on some of the slower cuts) is occasionally dragged down a bit by repetitive arrangements of electronic keyboards, guitar and programmed drums. But strong songwriting overcomes those limitations, particularly on upbeat cuts such as "Love Like No Other," "Lovin' My People" and "My Blackness." And Taylor's unassuming tenor voice sounds crisp and clear, working  well throughout the disc.

Retro Blackness should both please Taylor's core base and add new fans.  It is a lyrically interesting, musically solid album that is a fine addition to this talented artist's already-significant discography.  Recommended.

CR

 

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