REVIEW: Taylor Martin’s “Song Dogs” is Rustic Warmth This Winter

Reviews

Taylor Martin’s new release, Song Dogs (Little King Records) was produced by Amanda Anne Platt, frontwoman of the Honeycutters.  It was co-produced with Robert George, and Martin, and recorded at Sound Temple Studios in the music-warm city of Asheville, NC.  [For our earlier interview with Amanda Anne Platt, including regarding her role as producer, see here:  Interview: Amanda Anne Platt of the Honeycutters Gets to the Heart of the Matter on Defining Teamwork and Community]

Personnel for the record includes Taylor Martin on lead vocals and acoustic guitar with rhythmnists Richie Jones  on drums, Matthew Dufon on bass (along with some guitar and vocals).  Matthew Smith on electric guitar and pedal steel; Aaron Ramsey on acoustic guitar and mandolin,  Josh Shilling on piano, B3 and Wurlitzer; Lyndsay Pruett (Jon Stickley Trio) on fiddle, Amanda Anne Platt and Debrissa McKinney on harmony vocals, and Phil Alley guest on guitar

Throughout the album, Martin’s vocal tones are low and growlly, sounding at times distinctly like Dr. John.  The deeper the songs delve lyrically, the more distinct the vocals become.

There are three well-selected covers in this collection. Matthew Smith’s pedal steel offsets Martin’s vocals elegantly in this version of Merle Haggard’s “Kern River.”  Bob Dylan’s “Sign on the Window” was another excellent choice, and on this one the intertwining of Hammond B3, piano, fiddle, and dirty guitar tones is a stand-out rustic sounding creation. Neil Young’s “Music Arcade” is another with old-timey fiddle and a hoedown beat.

The title track is a real heartfelt song of hope presented over a leisurely piano.  “Second Sight” is the centerpiece of the album with a shuffle snare beat and a lyrical delving into issues of mortality and perspectival sea changes; Pruett’s fiddle here evokes old Eastern European, baroque styles: “close your eyes I’m going to close mine too… baby wake up, we’re on the other side.” “Little Pictures,” is a lighter, more upbeat part of the project, with a contemporary commentary on smartphone narcissism (for a video of this, see here:  Exclusive Video Premiere: Taylor Martin’s “Little Pictures” From Song Dogs, Album Produced by Amanda Anne Platt]  “Hollywood,” is an ode to the pressures on Norma Jean and James Dean, and don’t miss “Milk and Honey” with its sparkly mandolin.

Try this album for its rich depth both lyrically and musically.  Find your copy and tour dates, here:  https://taylormartin.hearnow.com/

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