Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

Let's Leave This Town – 2002 (Texas Music Group)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

Though Chip Taylor's most widely known songs are '60s pop standards ("Wild Thing," and "Angel of the Morning"), his co-write for Waylon Jennings ("Sweet Dream Woman") and his own albums from the '70s are more indicative of the country sound he brought to his mid-'90s recording renaissance.

Rodriguez is a 23-year-old fiddle player (and Berklee School of Music graduate) whose Austin upbringing has steeped her in Texas twang. Their meeting, at the SXSW music conference, led to a tour invitation and graduated into a singing partnership. Taylor wrote 9 songs specifically for this duet project, pulled 2 from the public domain, and resurrected one of his own late-'60s creations.

Rodriguez is a fine fiddle player, with a singing voice that takes in the plaintive side of Lucinda Williams, tempered with a bit of a blue-yodel edge. Taylor's rough-hewn voice, a la Kristofferson and John Prine, meshes easily, providing a counterpoint in both texture and age. The mostly-acoustic music, with fine guitar and mandolin playing, ranges from Old Time folk country to Texas swing and acoustic jazz. Taylor's new songs are accompanied by a pair of traditional covers ("Say Little Darlin'" and the instrumental "Midnight on the Water"), and a reprise of his own "Storybook Children," the latter a 1968 hit for Judy Clay and co-writer Billy Vera.

With SXSW having turned into an artist-and-label meat market, it's pleasing to find something growing organically from the chance meeting of musicians, unbrokered by A&R flacks.