Q (9/00, p.131) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Released around [his] 40th birthday and shared an ironic, relaxed take on nostalgia and ageing pop stars...slick, easy-lustening and very successful."
Personnel includes: James Taylor (vocals, acoustic guitar); Bob Mann, Jeff Mironov (guitar); Dan Dugmore (banjo); Mark O'Connor (violin); Gary "Fingers" Taylor (harmonica); Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone); Don Grolnick (keyboards); Bill Payne (synthesizer); Leland Sklar (bass); Jay Leonhart (acoustic bass); Carlos Vega (drums, percussion); "Cafe" Edison A. Da Silva (percussion).
Recorded at Power Station, New York, New York.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
NEVER DIE YOUNG is a seminal event in the long recording career of James Taylor. Not only has the title cut become a significant staple in the singer/songwriter's cache of hits, but Taylor had finally reached a whole new stylistic plateau. The contemporary Taylor was no longer merely the folk troubadour of the '70s or pop stylist of the '80s. Taylor's song craft had reached a level of maturity and poetic clarity achieved only by artists like Joni Mitchell or Sting.
Expertly produced by the late jazz pianist Don Grolnick, NEVER DIE YOUNG covers a lot of musical ground from the Louisiana feel of "T-Bone" and country groove of "Runaway Boy" to the tender chamber music ballad "Valentine's Day" and the pop samba of "First Of May." Lyrically, Taylor is in top form as he creates verbal portraits and narratives of the utmost artistry without ever sounding flowery or artificial. Some little known gems contained herein include the refreshing "Sun On The Moon," the easy shuffle of "Sweet Potato Pie" and the beautifully crafted "Letter In The Mail." From start to finish, this is a collection of high-level material from one of pop's songwriting masters.