Allan Taylor – All Is One – Stockfisch Records stereo-only SACD SFR 357.4078.2, 52:06 [11/1/13] ****:

(Allan Taylor – guitar, vocals; Ian Melrose – guitar, tremolo guitar, flute; Barnaby Taylor – piano; Hans-Jorg Maucksch – fretless bass; Vlado Kreslin – vocals; Beo Brockhausen – soprano saxophone, bowed psaltery, keyboards; Lutz Moller – Hammond B3, piano, keyboards; Grischka Zepf – electric bass, bass; Lea Morris – harmony vocals; Sven von Samson – percussion; Lucille Chaubard – violoncello)

At nearly seventy, Allan Taylor has truly lived as a folk troubadour. Starting in the London scene in the sixties, he traveled to Greenwich Village to become a staple of the post-Beatnik musical society. His soothing, deep-register voice and acoustic Martin guitars created songs that defined the singer/songwriter aesthetic. By the mid-seventies he relocated back to England. Since then he has travelled the world, writing and performing material that reflects his personal journey.

As Allan Taylor opens his latest release from Stockfisch Records, his simple narrative of the road imbues “Endless Highway”. The elements that have made him a trademark of his label, baritone voice, simple guitar and great songwriting (“…I found it in the songs of Woody Guthrie, of the lost and the dispossessed”) are merged in an aural framework that fits him perfectly, Taylor sings about himself, but for everyman. Ten songs, with a surprising three covers comprise this poetic melancholy album. “Let The Music Flow” incorporates the muse in a musical journey. Fellow songwriter Vlado Kreslin contributes a verse in Slavic. Session virtuoso Beo Brockhausen adds a timely run on soprano saxophone. The next track, “We Stood As One” benefits from ethereal harmonious backup vocals by Lea Morris. LucilleChaubard adds an exotic touch on violoncello, while guitarist Ian Melrose and keyboardist Lutz-Moller bring the tune to life.

The first of three covers is Tom Paxton’s “I Followed Her Into The West”. There is a melancholy elegance to the arrangement. Lutz-Moller’s piano exudes a gospel vibe and Brockhausen elevates the folk resonance as he plays bowed psaltery. He covers Derroll Adams on “The Sky”. The meditative tune has a rich sound, augmented by keyboards/bowed psaltery (Brockhausen), violoncello (Chaubard) and guitar/flute (Ian Melrose). The 8:29 running time is a departure from the customary Taylor material, and it is prominent.. The final cover is “Like A Cloud (Canzone del Ripensamento)”. This arrangement is scaled down to a trio and showcases the versatility and strength of his voice. Regardless of the song’s origin, Taylor makes them his own with authenticity.

Stockfisch Records SACD process applies modern recording technology to expand the organic tone of Taylor’s vocals. However, the intimate resonance of the material is never lost in the mixing process. Acoustic guitars are front and center to complement the singing. Any shading instrumentation (bowed psaltery, organ, flute) are mixed into the background.

TrackList: Endless Highway; Let The Music Flow; All Is One; We Stood As One; I Followed Her Into The West; One Last Smile; Plenty For The Few; The Sky; Like A Cloud (Canzone del Ripensamento); The Best I Can

—Robbie Gerson