Early this month, singer Katriona Taylor released her new album, Blind Passion through DivaDoll Records. Running 12 songs deep, Blind Passion is Taylor’s fifth album and will appeal to a targeted audience group. That is due in large part to the musical arrangements featured throughout the album. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies those arrangements add to the appeal to those specific listeners. It will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Blind Passion a unique addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.
Blind Passion, the latest studio recording from jazz singer Katriona Taylor, is a presentation that her established audiences will find engaging and entertaining. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. Even though the record is being marketed as a jazz presentation, the arrangements are more infused with Taylor’s familiar soul leanings than jazz. The only song featured in the record whose arrangement is jazz at its most basic level is her cover of Duke Ellington’s timeless song, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).’ Coming early in the record’s run, the song is a wonderful take on the beloved jazz standard, with Taylor’s scatting right up there with that of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Drummer Chris Nickolls’ work on the kit is just as notable. His ability to keep time solidly on the hi-hat as he works through his fills is impressive (coming from one drummer to another). No specific lineup is noted as to the songs anywhere in the album’s packaging (including its liner notes) so it is impossible to know which of the two pianists enlisted for the album — John Crawford and John Hammond — handled the keys on this performance. Whichever musician handled the responsibility is fully deserving of his own applause.
On a completely different note, Taylor and her fellow musicians take on The Doors’ classic song ‘Light My Fire’ as part of the album’s presentation complete with soprano saxophone and soul-tinged keyboards and bass. This rendition is intriguing to say the very least. Instead of the driving rocker that most audiences know, Taylor and company take the arrangement in a more lounge lizard type direction. It really is a stark contrast from the source material that is certain to divide audiences.
Even Taylor and company’s original composition, ‘Makes Me Wanna Stay’ is more soul-tinged than jazz. The jazz leaning is there. There is no denying this. It is evidenced throughout the arrangement. At the same time, Taylor’s soul leaning’s are just as present. Interestingly enough, the choruses here are such that they lend themselves to comparison to Lionel Richie’s timeless hit, ‘Easy (Like Sunday Morning).’ Digressing here, there is another comparison here in the lyrical themes of that song and Taylor’s song. Where Taylor’s song is about someone doing things so right that it makes the other person want to stay with that person, Richie’s song is the polar opposite, about someone leaving that other person. The matter of lyrical themes will be touched on a little more a little later. Getting back on the subject at hand, the comparisons between the arrangements is unavoidable, and again definitely shows how Taylor and company lean once again in a far less jazz-oriented direction in this record than soul and R&B. Taking this song and the others examined here into consideration along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes clear why this record’s musical content is of such importance. It is such that audiences will either like it or dislike it. There is not a lot of wiggle room for middle of the road feelings.
The musical content featured in Taylor’s new album is just part of what makes the record very directed in its appeal. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements adds to the targeted appeal. That is because by and large, the record’s lyrical content centers on the all too familiar topic of relationships. Save for the one Duke Ellington cover, nearly every song on this record centers on the matter. Even The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ finds itself in that arena because it is about someone who is “hot” for another person and letting that person know it. So again, audiences get little variance in the album’s lyrical content from one song to the next here. To that end, it is going to find its appeal, again, very limited. That limit is among, again, Taylor’s established audiences. More casual audiences might find some appeal, but it will be found far more among those established listeners.
Having touched on the musical and lyrical content featured in Katriona Taylor’s new album, there is still one more item to examine. That item is its production. The production is worthy of at least some applause because of its ability to bring out the warmth of Taylor’s performance and those of her fellow musicians in each song. That warmth creates a sense of heart in each song, too, in turn making for reason to hear the album at least once, even among more casual audiences. From one song to the next, each performer’s part is expertly balanced with that of the other musicians, leading each figure to bring out the best in one another. Thanks to the production, again, those performances each get equal attention, and in turn creating a positive general effect. When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole makes the album worth hearing at least once.
Blind Passion, the fifth album from singer Katriona Taylor, is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements do exhibit some jazz leanings, but at the same time also present just as much soul influence if not more. That blend of influences is very likely to divide audiences, and in turn find most of its appeal among Taylor’s established audiences. The album’s lyrical content is just as likely to appeal to Taylor’s most devoted fans. That is because it is also limited. In the case of this album, it is limited primarily to the topic of romance; love found and lost. There is not a lot of variety in the themes here. The songs’ production rounds out the album’s most important elements. It brings out the best in each musician’s performance and balances those performances just as well with one another. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a unique presentation that audiences will find is worth hearing at least once.
Blind Passion is available now through DivaDoll Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Katriona Taylor’s latest news at:
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