Over The Rainbow: The American Standard EP
I wasn’t a fan of James Taylor’s early 2020 album of evergreens and American standards. I wanted to be. It should have worked. Should have been my cuppa proverbial herbal. But no. It felt lazy and the strings were cloying and Taylor’s own guitar had given over to John Pizzarelli – no slouch but I wanted to hear Taylor’s fine acoustic thoughts; instead they were buried.
So this is a nice surprise arriving late at the very end of 2020: An EP from the same sessions – basically a bonus disc released out on its own.
Just three songs. And all of them would have made the original album better – but certainly the bookenders. We open here with I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face, Taylor’s voice is so perfect for offering the nostalgia of this song and the combination of his acoustic guitar and the supporting strings is just perfect. More so than as happened on the finished cuts from the finished longplayer.
Never Never Land is a bit more towards middling – but again he’s in fine voice. And the bones of the tune are okay. Its just that, material-wise, this is a reminder of Taylor’s most middle of the road laziness from the early 1980s when he lost his way navigating the schmaltz.
The closer though, a solo (voice and acoustic guitar) rendition of Over The Rainbow – just exquisite. This EP’s title track, it should have been the album-proper’s main event. His playing is just sublime.
So if like me you wanted to like a new James Taylor release but just couldn’t revisit the standards album too often there’s hope and heart and solace right here in this little morsel. (More sell, lol).
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