Otis Taylor’s Contraband

Title: Otis Taylor’s Contraband

Artist: Otis Taylor

Label: Telarc

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: February 14, 2012



With a seamless mix of jazz and blues, along with a complementary helping of folk, Otis Taylor continues to showcase his award-winning talents on Contraband. Over the course of the album, the aforementioned genres blend as organically as the themes he sings about: race, persecution and love, among others.

One of the standout songs on the album, “Blind Piano Teacher,” offsets simple, folksy chords with trumpet and violin, which periodically fade in and out. Painting a romantic picture of a white, blind piano teacher and his black wife, the track contains a compelling message of racial unity and acceptance. On the more blues-rock side of things, “The Devil’s Gonna Lie” balances the hard-hitting sounds of an organ and distorted guitars with the cleaner, crisper sound of a cornet. Several songs throughout the album feature Taylor’s signature-style of banjo playing, the best of which is heard on “Banjo Boogie Blues.” The dueling banjo and steel guitar, in combination with the female back-up singers, results in a very energetic creation.

Reviewed by Ian Hallagan