Release Date: Sep 30, 2008
Record label: Hear Music
A cozy companion to One Man Band, James Taylor's 2007 intimate stroll through his back pages for Starbucks' Hear Music, Covers once again finds the singer/songwriter on familiar, friendly territory, as he returns to his easy rolling full band and digs into the songbook of the rock & roll era. It's his era, of course, the time he had hit singles, including many hit cover versions, as he points out himself in his brief liner notes to the album. All of this makes Covers feel perhaps even more comfortable than One Man Band, which had the distinction of its unique guitar-and-piano arrangements, something that made his hits sound relatively fresh.
These songs deserve better than this clumsy treatmentThroughout his 40-year career, James Taylor has been interpreting others’ songs in his inimitably laidback style, but with mixed results: For every “You’ve Got a Friend” there’s a “Steamroller Blues. ” Covers is his first album devoted to nothing but other people’s music and, unsurprisingly, it’s marked by his same strengths and weaknesses, not to mention some intrusive backing vocals and superlatively bland production. Taylor fares poorly when whitewashing old R&B hits like Junior Walker’s “(I’m A) Road Runner” and “Hound Dog,” but sounds slightly more convincing on country hits like Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” and George Jones’ “Why Baby Why.