What to do if you write recording-worthy songs, but don’t really want to be the guy singing them? Or the flip side, you know how to sing and entertain, but don’t have a lot of your own songs to record? Getting together seems like a smart option and that is just what Wilde Taylor, Ed Taylor (songwriter/guitarist) and Jesse Wilde (singer/songwriter and recording engineer) have done here. And they make a great team.
The songwriting credits alternate over eight tracks, with Wilde’s warm and likable voice providing a steady link – alongside Taylor’s unobtrusive guitaring and the confident fiddle of Nick Jones.
The CD’s cover photo reveals that Wilde and Taylor have both been hangin’ around the tracks for some decades, and their gently paced Americana country-blues songs are mostly reflections on life’s (mis-) adventures and past loves.
Between them they cover all the basics: there’s humility and regret (Don’t Blame It On Me); bravado (A Long Time Ago); longing looks back (Crazy Night); pleading for another chance (I Ain’t Gonna Let You, Please Don’t Leave); fighting and gypsy fortune-telling (Magdalyn); battling of demons (Where Are You Now?) and a Springsteen-like tale of life spent across the dust bowl States (Ghost Town Road).
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Wilde’s own studio in Auckland the sound is consistently warm, the percussion, BVs and instrumental dressings (there’s bass and drums, keys and banjo) kept subtle so as to leave the focus on the vocals.
Wilde’s voice stands comparison to the quality likes of John Mellencamp, emotive enough to articulate the lyrics, but resigned when appropriate and rarely pushed.
The odd hint of Tom Waits-ian gravel broadens its appeal and maybe could have been taken further, but really the simple honesty of production treatment sits well with the simple and honest songs. All up it’s a surprisingly appealing package of mid-tempo, mid-life, mid-American country-blues, done Kiwi-style with laudable conviction and attention to detail.