One of the foremost modern-day practitioners of the blues, Otis Taylor has never confined himself to standard bar-band electric blues. Instead, his largely acoustic approach to the form is built upon Delta traditions of old, delivered with a decidedly contemporary mindset. Honored recipient of a dozen Blues Music Awards, Taylor tackles the subject of racism head-on in Fantasizing About Being Black, his 15th album. Strictly speaking, Taylor’s choice of spare instrumentation and arrangements is repetitive; in practice it’s better described as trance-focused. That musical backdrop — with hauntingly effective use of cornet providing running counter-melody — helps keep the focus on the songwriter’s impassioned, thoughtful ruminations. Songs like “Jump Jelly Belly” are often built around a single chord. And when Taylor does go electric, as on “Hands on Your Stomach,” the trance vibe remains present, albeit in amped-up fashion.
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