Home / Album Reviews / Album Review: Crash Taylor – Retired Outlaw

Album Review: Crash Taylor – Retired Outlaw

Crash Taylor was raised around musicians and became one himself. His album Retired Outlaw, however, is his actual recording debut years after the fact.. Capturing a lifetime of personal and artistic experiences within ten songs looks like a tall order but, in this reviewer’s estimation, Taylor’s reached that lofty peak. Retired Outlaw’s ten songs discover inexhaustible variations on a musical template Taylor establishes with the first track “Fretboard” and his lyrics throughout Retired Outlaw prove able to take life in from a variety of perspectives.

The aforementioned opener is one hell of an introduction. Taylor doesn’t bellow, beat his chest, scream, or shout, but nonetheless puts himself “out there” in an emphatic manner certain to grab the listener’s attention. The lyrics are well-written and bracing in their directness. “Idlewild” starts off on a bright note with the energetic acoustic guitar. He goes in for the big chorus here and it will impress listeners with how airy he keeps things. There’s a lot going on, but the song breathes and never feels weighed down with excess.

“Play For Me” has an elegiac mood that’s impossible to ignore. Musical decisions made along the way accentuate the mood such as the ghostly organ accompaniment simmering throughout the song and the light echo applied to the backing vocals. Taylor’s clear and declarative voice is well-suited for material like this. “Birthday Suit” is essentially a light rocker and one of the more playful songs about the first flush of love or infatuation in a long time.

 

 

It gains a dollop of added humor from Taylor’s deadpan delivery. He’s one of the few singers who can sing about eating fruit in bed with your romantic partner like someone singing their grocery list. It’s obviously for effect and works splendidly. Don’t overlook this track because, given the chance, it’ll rank among the album’s finest moments.

“Where’s My Baby?” shows its blues influence in the lyrics. The repetition in the writing isn’t tiresome, however, as Taylor introduces enough variation to make it worthwhile. He finds a lonesome tone in his voice to reinforce the longing in his words and the lean and well-spaced accompaniment helps accentuate the restless yearning in the song’s heart. Taylor punctuates the song’s final lap with stylized but nonetheless effective lead guitar.

He unambiguously dives into autobiography for the song “Let Him In”. This song broods over leave-taking. An older generation leaving the stage, a way of life fading away, tradition falling into mothballs. It makes even more of an impact thanks to the conversational language Taylor uses for the song – there’s no call for poetry here, pseudo or otherwise. Crash Taylor’s Retired Outlaw finds plenty of poetry in life.

He depicts those moments without needless self-indulgence. Plastic dramatics are not something Taylor embraces over the course of the album’s ten songs and there’s no sign he ever will. It’s true Taylor’s written and played music for years before recording Retired Outlaw, but it still sounds like a debut album in the best possible way. It crackles with energy, insight, and humor.

About Michael Stover

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