James Taylor – JT
James Taylor’s best-selling record since 1970’s hallmark Sweet Baby James, the triple-platinum JT takes its permanent place as one of the singer’s most enduring albums — an affair that gorges on country, blues, and rock styles as well as incisive songwriting.
As the pre-eminent singer-songwriter’s Columbia debut, it catapulted Taylor back into the limelight and re-established his place as the era’s leading-edge folk-rock troubadour.
Sourced from the original analogue master tapes and pressed at RTI, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered-edition 180g LP possesses a warmth, immediacy, and intimacy absent from other pressings.
The singer’s comforting voice, breath control, and enchanting guitar lines sound as if they pour right out of the studio control room.
Similarly, the splendid array of backing instrumentation is balanced, vivid, and dynamic. Taylor should always sound this realistic, warm, and lively.
More than any other of his records, JT features all sides of Taylor’s lyrical persona.
Optimistic, content material fills half of the 1977 set while Taylor reveals a darker, moodier identity on a number of songs that keep the 12-track set alternating between shade and light, shadow and sun.
He turns romantic and blissful on the touching ballad “There We Are,” praises the power of love on “Your Smiling Face,” and enchants with the graceful “Secret O’Life.”
In addition to channeling domestic bliss, Taylor expresses surprise and cynicism on “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.,” delves into despair on “Another Grey Morning,” and invites sardonic tones on “Bartender’s Blues.”
The result is a complete picture of an extraordinary songwriter and an accurate sketch of the mixed emotions many of us feel when it comes to romance.
Taylor’s ability to capture deep-seated feelings and set them to lyrical and musical poetry explains why we relate to him on such a meta-level. It’s also why his music, including JT, remains timeless.
Taylor doesn’t do it all alone. JT benefits from an all-star support cast. Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt supply background vocals, saxophone great David Sanborn plays the horn, Russ Kunkel mans the percussion, and arranger David Campbell oversees the strings and woodwinds.
It’s no wonder why many fans consider this gorgeous collection of Laurel Canyon pop-rock Taylor’s finest.
Whether you’ve never heard this record or know it inside and out, this reissue will open your ears to previously hidden details ranging from pedal-steel guitar accents to honky-tonk tonalities.
Taylor’s funky rhythms, too, gain in stature, as does his command of pace and tempo.
Track List: James Taylor – JT
Your Smiling Face
There We Are
Honey Don’t Leave L.A.
Another Grey Morning
Secret O’ Life
I Was Only Telling a Lie
Looking for Love on Broadway
If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight