The theme of love and relationships runs through Contraband, a release that might be Otis Taylor’s best to date.
From the gritty trance blues of the opening track, â€œThe Devil’s Gonna Lieâ€ (with haunting echoes of John Lee Hooker), to the more buoyant feel of â€œYell Your Name,â€ and on to the engagingly reflective â€œBlind Piano Teacher,â€ the disc changes mood and groove deftly from track to track. Otis even throws in some bluegrass-tinged fare, â€œBanjo Boogie Blues,â€ and a little Delta blues on â€œLay On My Delta Bed.â€
Whether it’s love gone bad, a cheating partner, or a sweet love affair between an older man and a blind woman, Taylor and his backers dial in the sound just right on Contraband’s 14 cuts. Impressive.
Contraband is out Tuesday, February 14, on Telarc Records.