James Taylor - One Man Band (Hear Music, 2007)
As the third major artist this year to embrace Starbucks' Hear Music Label, James Taylor represents both one more reason for traditional record labels to pull out what's left of their hair and one more reason to give Starbucks a few more bucks to sit back and enjoy the soothing sound of James Taylor in a mostly acoustic concert. While the new material on Paul McCartney's and Joni Mitchell's recent releases on Hear Music didn't engage me as much as I'd hoped, this JT show satisfies like a hot cup of steamin' java (Starbucks, Wawa, or otherwise).
As one of our most durable singer-songwriters, hell he helped invent the genre, over the years his messing with his songs, changing melody, meter, etc., in concert has often seemed disconcerting, but he doesn't do that here; mostly he plays it straight, and with a large video screen on stage and a few other surprises, he turns in a totally entertaining two hour show. Accompanied only by Larry Goldings on piano and keyboards, James plays acoustic and sings, shows pictures, tells stories, and generally includes the audience, both at the show and at home, in what plays like a family reunion with great music. Aside from a couple of ill-advised jokes, James knocks it out of the park for the entirety of this two hour show.
Picture and sound quality is superb on the DVD, and the venue looks replendent as well. James chose to do the show at the refurbished Colonial Theater in his hometown of Pittsfield, Massachussetts, located in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. The DVD contains a few very amusing outtakes, including James singing "Carolina in My Mind" in a Bob Dylan voice and then in a "sad gypsy" version. With a new release sale price of $17.97 at Amazon, this combination CD & DVD set is a huge bargain. One Man Bandis released Tuesday November 13th.
James Taylor's website.
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