Allan Taylor – Leaving At Dawn – Allan Taylor – vocals & guitar; Ian Melrose – guitars; Lea Morris – harmony vocals; Peter Funk – dobro; Hans-Jorg Maucksch – fretless bass; Beo Brockhausen – woodwinds & percussion – Stockfisch Records

by | Jul 17, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Allan Taylor – Leaving At Dawn – Allan Taylor – vocals & guitar; Ian Melrose – guitars; Lea Morris – harmony vocals; Peter Funk – dobro; Hans-Jorg Maucksch – fretless bass; Beo Brockhausen – woodwinds & percussion – Stockfisch Records Multichannel SACD SFR 357.4057.2, 58 min. ****:

Allan Taylor is the consummate singer-songwriter, musician and troubadour. He’s been touring and performing for forty years now, and he writes songs that are both poignant and thought provoking that capture an amazing range of moods. He first came to my attention a couple of years ago with the song “Beat Hotel” from the first Stockfisch SACD sampler, Closer To The Music Vol. 1, a song that chronicled the alternative lifestyles and excesses of the Beat Generation. That song was absolute ear candy to listen to, and Allan Taylor delivered it with such conviction, you feel by the end of the song that he must have lived it! I knew at that point that I needed to check out more of Allan Taylor’s music. But with Stockfisch Records not being exactly a household name here in the U.S., this new multichannel SACD, Leaving At Dawn, represents the first full-length album of his I’ve had the opportunity to hear, and it is truly superb!

The songs run the gamut of emotion; Allan Taylor is an excellent storyteller and the instrumentation effectively augments his delivery of the songs throughout this disc. The opening track, “Winter,” really evokes a feeling of the season; “The Almost Man,” an ode to his late father, tells of how his dying words inspired the younger Taylor to live his life to the fullest. “Firefly” is culled from the traditional music of the British Isles, and is accompanied by some beautiful banjo and fiddle work. “Lay Soft On Your Pillow” is another evocative and lilting mood piece that features some exceptional work on the accordion by Hrolfur Vagnsson. “The Last Of The Privateers” is a classic British seafaring tale of the life of a pirate, while “It Could Have Been” is a thought provoking exploration of the relative brevity of our lives. “Red On Green” is Allan Taylor’s translation of a World War I soldier’s touching final letter to his wife that was found on his body after he had been killed in battle.

Gunther Pauler of Stockfisch is a remarkably good recording engineer, and he’s given us a real gem with this new disc. The sparsely accompanied (and almost entirely acoustic) pieces generally only include two guitars, bass, light percussion and the addition of the occasional dobro, fiddle, banjo or mandolin. All in addition, of course, to Allan Taylor’s expressively rendered vocals. The excellent recording offers a really convincing illusion of real players performing in realistic space. And while some of the instruments do pretty much occupy the surround channels, you get much more of a “stage perspective” – I felt as though I was truly (and seamlessly) surrounded by the musicians. While I’m generally not a huge fan of the stage perspective in multichannel recordings, this one is about as ungimmicked and totally immersive as you’re likely to find.

I understand from Allan Taylor’s website [www.allantaylor.com] that he recently (May 29) suffered a pretty serious angina attack. He’s been released from the hospital and is recovering quite nicely at home, where he’s in the care of his wife, who happens to be a nurse. He’ll have to make some lifestyle changes, but he’s very upbeat about everything and has started to play the guitar again. Best of luck! You can show your support by procuring this excellent album; it’s very well recorded and thoughtfully performed, and is highly recommended!

TrackList: Winter; The Almost Man; Back Home To You; Provence; Firefly; Lay Soft On Your Pillow; New York In The Seventies; The Last Of The Privateers; Leaving At Dawn; It Could Have Been; Make Another Turn; Red On Green.

— Tom Gibbs

 

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