On his last recording, Wayne Taylor offered a mix of five originals, one David Parker tune and six covers. With this, his third album, he returns to the format of his first effort, writing or co-writing all the songs save for Parker’s humorously bitter “Mash Your Finger.” Also back from the first recording is the creative and dynamic Mark Delaney on banjo. He is joined by Appaloosa holdovers, Kene Hyatt on bass and Emory Lester on mandolin, fiddle, and harmony. Melissa Keech-Armstrong adds harmony on several tracks. No disrespect to any of the players, but it is Lester who steals the spotlight instrumentally. His playing is always clear, melodic, and dead-on precise, most notably on the rapid “Cry Lonesome Dove.”
Taylor, whose voice is becoming richer with each recording, is always at his best blending folk elements into bluegrass. What we hear on these 14 songs is largely just such a blending. Taylor does cast several cuts in a straight bluegrass mold, including “She Put The Tears In My Eyes,” “Cry Lonesome Dove,” “Caroline,” and “Lay My Body Down.” He also uses a fiddle-tune setting for his positive, life-on-the-farm song, “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Day.” All are good, solid tunes except “Lay My Body Down, which is a cut above. With its slow, bluesy, gospel feel and its triumphant resignation, it is one of the best tunes here.
As stated above, the rest have varying degrees of folk elements blended with the bluegrass. “Two Kindred Hearts,” for example, has an almost Peter, Paul, and Mary quality, recalling their version of “Don’t Think Twice,” while “The Hills Of Tennessee,” a bank-robber tale, makes me think of the Kingston Trio. “Sing Me To Memphis” and “The Pain” create less distinct associations, but make good use of folk colorings nonetheless. All four are fine tunes and contribute to an overall enjoyable recording. (Raincoe Music, 1751 W. Regents Park Rd., Crofton, MD 21114, www.waynetaylorandappaloosa.com.) BW