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Lewis Taylor: Lewis Taylor [Expanded Edition]

Album Notes

When Lewis Taylor's self-titled debut burst upon the U.K. pop and R&B scenes, punters and gasbag critics were beside themselves in trying to offer enough superlatives to describe its seamless blend of soul, sophisticated pop, streetwise grooves and laid-back white-boy funk. Taylor, who possesses a voice that is infinitely more emotionally expressive than Jamiroquai's without all the faux-hippie hyperbole, or forced Stevie Wonder-isms. Taylor waltzed onto the pop music stage and created, seemingly effortlessly, the same kind of record that Paul Weller has wet dreams about. From the outset, Taylor is reminiscent of other modern visionaries in that he composes his own tunes, plays all the instruments, and is the entire range of voices. He also produces his material with Sabina Smyth. From the shimmering synths that so languidly open "Lucky," with a snaky electric guitar creeping through the percussion and a bassline that immediately goes to the bottom of the spine, the listener knows that this is a pop encounter of the third kind. Oh yeah, it's slick, it's got sheen, but its also got that unspeakable kind of murk in its tracks that breathe and infect. Taylor's gorgeous tenor is full of a masculine ache that asks directly for what it wants -- check the tough drum and jazzy guitar shimmy of "Bittersweet," the blessed-out transcendence of "Track," ( which Hall & Oates would have killed to record), the spiny backbeat funky bass-driven of "Whoever," or the dubby soul of "Song." Considering that all of these cuts are on the first half of the record sets a new watermark. But cuts six-ten deliver an entirely different kind of payload. The easy blue-eyed rock and shake of "How," the burning blue sex balladry of "Betterlove," the tense steamy drama at the heart of "Right," and the backbone dropping languor of "Damn" are the precursors to the album's glorious closer "the a cappella "Spirit," which is sexier than anything Take 6 ever fantasized. This is a debut that doesn't just show promise; it delivers brilliance. ~ Thom Jurek


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