Cassie Taylor Blue.Is it really blues? No, but it is a decent bluesy listen with some excellent guitar.

Label: Hypertension Music
Time: 10 Tracks / 32 minutes

Like a cruise-ship version of Beth Rowley, Cassie Taylor lets the past come through in the songs she sings. Taylor’s father is Otis and she played bass and backing vocals in his band for a decade. She has enough good contacts and talent of her own to make music her career, but like many second-generation members of a family business, she has decided to make a break with the old style and stamp her own pesonality on what she does.

The obvious question that arises from the first listen to Blue is, “Is it really blues?” to which the pensive answer comes, “Probably not.” Sure, it has the minor chords and the odd bit of harp, but what it does not have much of is the gutsy emotion that the blues requires. Instead, Taylor dresses her sound in a clean pop sheen. I kept hearing Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” throughout this album’s front door track “Memphis.”

There is a lot of clearly-expressed feeling in her lyrics as she insists that she is spoken for; declares faithful, life-long love; or complains about her own misjudgments and regrets. Some soft-soul backing vocals add a depth of mood, but nothing really makes you want to cry.

Ironically, having made her “neo-blues” statement early on, she slows down and gets properly bluesy towards the end and it is these pieces that connect best. “Haunted” has the progressions and the earnest delivery, while the soft regret in her voice through “Waste of Time” lets you believe that she is feeling what she sings.

Throughout it all, her guitarist James ‘Rooster’ Olson does an excellent job of colouring the music with restrained yearning (even when some intrusively repetitive and metallic drumming spoils everything else on the low point “Goodbye“). Olson’s shimmering, descending theme makes “Haunted” the highlight track for me (although it is where Taylor should really be letting rip) and he oh-so-gently rocks his tremolo arm to make the most of every note.  

It doesn’t really matter what you label it; the music still works. This rather brief album is easy to listen to and only has one real dud. Unfortunately, it is just as easy to leave to one side after it has finished, whereas a gutsier vocalist would have you lurching for the repeat button with these songs. It’s unusual and pleasant, but not essential.

Derek Walker

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