Otis Taylor ‎– Respect The Dead

NorthernBlues Music ‎– NBM0009
CD, Album


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July 1, 2017
With a dark and eerie presence Otis Taylor’s Respect The Dead fills my room with an undefined fullness, or perhaps it’s more like I’m catching the vague silhouette of someone sitting in the overstuffed leather chair from the corner of my eye. Otis has a voice and the ability to create songs that bring chills to my skin, and have me believing in ghosts ... with those ghosts rising from a John Lee Hooker goes Goth style and sound, mixed with an atmospheric background that suggests Twin Peaks may actually be blessed with more truth than we’d care to admit.

The album is relentless, possessing a pulsating rhythm that almost stands counterpoint to Mr. Taylor’s impassioned vocals, where they not so inseparably entwined, as he lays down a bewildering sermon that may have been conjured by some dusty traveling street preacher, who by the time his last words are still echoing in the air, has already moved on. Taylor has been fashioning his own form of dark, swampy, back-woods, timeless blues like he’s been around forever ... and every once in awhile you’ll think you catch a glimpse of him from across the road, in the window of a passing train, or sitting with his guitar in the back of a flatbed truck you pass all too quickly on the interstate. Yet no matter where you think you may or may not have seen him, his music about love, race, circumstance, and death lingers in your ears like a faint AM radio signal bouncing off the clouds on a calm rainy night ... with the all too low volume out of your control.

There has never been a man this talented to go so unrecognized for so long ... his music gets under your skin, his music is filled with a smokey soulfulness, and is haunting enough to have any disbeliever looking over their shoulder as they try and save a few steps by crossing the graveyard. It's one thing to put your hands on your stomach and feel the spirits, it's another thing to talk to them ... if ever there was a man who actually stood at "the crossroads," it's Otis Taylor, and he just laughed a big ol' laugh right in the devil's face, and walked on into the night.

Review by Jenell Kesler