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Melvern Taylor

The Spider And The Barfly – 2001 (Broken White)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

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CDs by Melvern Taylor

On the cover of his new album, Melvern Taylor sits in bar with a beer on the table and a cigarette in his hand. This image perfectly reflects his smoke-filled songs, which frequent "the old watering hole" where barflies are "drowning sorrows no one could recall/warming every bar stool." His lyrics reveal a bleary-eyed romanticism fueled by lost love obsession and alcohol-addled resignation, perhaps best summarized in "The Worthen House" when he sings: "we'll reminisce about the things we've lost and we'll drink a toast to the lingering ghosts."

Taylor's gift for melody and thoughtfully conceived arrangements keeps his songs from succumbing to melancholy. Utilizing instruments like a plucky banjo or a plinking piano, Taylor (also the producer) enlivens the standard saloon singer/songwriter style. Demonstrating an affinity for '60's & '70's pop, he dresses up "Forget About Me" with a retro organ line and "ooh-la-la" backing vocals and injects "Sunny California" with a "Crystal Blue Persuasion" vibe. The irrepressibly catchy "Worn Out Shoes" brings together his sense for heartache and hooks in a terrific two-minute slice of AM pop. Taylor's sophomore effort finds him fast becoming an accomplished troubadour for the beer and bruised heart crowd. (Broken White Records)