Review Summary: For those times when you have had too much thrash metal, try this out for a change.
Sweet Baby James
As far back as I can remember, my mom hated James Taylor. She just absolutely could not stand him. So imagine my surprise at just how much I loved his debut album Sweet Baby James
. I was immediately struck by the simple beauty, grace and tenderness found in the album. James' vocals are amazing in their simplicity while his gentle guitar playing creates some excellent, folksy atmosphere. And thanks to his talented songwriting every song sounds earnest and quite rooted in personal experience. Only songs like "Steamroller" and "Suite for 20 g" sound like they were put in there just for fun, with the latter being a real standout track.
But for the most part the album is quite somber and grounded. The opener " Sweet Baby James" sounds like a longing for farm life simplicity while the next song, "Lo and Behold" appears almost to be a satire of extreme religious zealotry.Both work well due to a nice easy delivery by James' singing and acoustic musicianship. He then throws in some nice up lifters in the form of "Sunny Skies"and "Country Road." Both are unabashedly sentimental but refrain from being too mushy. The star of the album however, is "Fire and Rain" Written to mourn the death of a friend, it sounds every bit the eulogy you might expect a wounded song writer would commit to paper. No where else on the album are James' vocals more poignant or beautiful. The story he weaves is tragic and heartbreaking, yet oddly enough not without a hint if hope. And even more interesting is the follow up song, "Blossom" This has to be one of the happiest songs on the album, yet it follows the saddest. It is as if James was trying to comfort us, reminding us that happiness can always follow tragedy.
And that may be what the album does best; relate strong and deep emotional messages so effectively. On Sweet Baby James
James Taylor clearly demonstrates not just his talent as a musician, but also as a poet. Every song contains a lyrical poetry that is very mesmerizing, with even his more simple tracks being entertaining and involving. All in all this is an album that features excellent songwriting and beautiful vocals to create an experience that is both emotionally involving and spiritually uplifting at the same time. Never have I been so happy after ignoring the advice of a parent.