Far more immaculate than illicit. As charged with ritual significance and promise as the basic art form may be, it’s actually hard to find good modern blues records. Cheap production values with too many horns and rote shuffles clutter the landscape, and original voices are disappointingly scarce. But every now and then an album like Otis Taylor’s latest comes along in a gust of inspiration.
Anyone who has paid attention to Otis Taylor's career understands that he is not a conventional bluesman, yet his diverse music, for all of its ambitious instrumentation, odd rhythmic meters, minor pentatonic scales, and textural strangeness embodies the spirit of the blues authentically and unmistakably. His is an iconic -- and some would argue iconoclastic -- vision. Contraband is nearly an hour long and contains 14 songs.
Otis Taylor’s career used to have a nice, linear narrative. He started in music, quit music, and returned to music. He made solo albums driven my his rhythmic acoustic playing and powered by his resonant voice. He gradually expanded his aesthetic, including other musicians, new sounds, and an increasing amount of experimentation.