Spellbinding singer/songwriter Kim Taylor celebrates her second full-length release, I Feel Like a Fading Light, with a performance at 8 p.m. this Saturday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood.
Fading Light was recorded in New York City with Jimi Zhivago, former guitarist for popular progressive Roots music purveyors Ollabelle, and the music is performed entirely by Taylor and Zhivago, save drums, which were provided by Mars Volta skinsman Blake Fleming, Devon Ashley of Indianapolis' Those Young Lions and local ace Josh Seurkamp. Zhivago and Taylor capture the songs' organic atmospherics and candle-flicker ambiance to perfection, never piling on too much extraneous ornamentation in favor of allowing the songs to hover on their own inherent power.
Taylor, who has toured extensively with the like-minded Over The Rhine as an opening act and background singer/guitarist, is equally magnetic as a vocalist and songwriter. For Fading Light, it's her gauzy singing that is the most immediately grabbing element, her voice floating in the same hemisphere as smoky, emotive song merchants like Fiona Apple or Beth Orton, but with the liquidity and phrasing of a classic, creative Jazz chanteuse like Billie Holiday. On the eerie, fervid "Troubled Mind," Taylor shimmies in and out of the plodding rhythms like an old cabaret singer, while even on the relatively more straightforward "Folk Pop" of tracks like "People," Taylor's voice is stirring, primarily thanks to the provocative, sensual songwriting. The arrangements on standout tracks like "Glove" and the brooding "Turpentine" are fluid yet still hit unexpected spots, keeping the album a low-key but exciting listen from start to finish.
Over the course of Fading Light's 13 tracks, Taylor shows a more adventurous and versatile side than what was hinted at on her still-mesmeric 2002 debut, So Black, So Bright. On "The Room Above," a mystical, exotic instrumental with Middle Eastern flavoring, Taylor's wordless hums say more than the most effusive singer, while the music of "Bruise" has the fuzzy expansiveness of The Afghan Whigs. Fading Light is intoxicating, narcotic Pop with depth and soul, darkly effervescent and as bewitching as any record you'll hear this year.
Visceral, timeless and seductive, it's the kind of album you can get lost in, never caring if you ever find your way back out. (kim-taylor.net)
Explosive Rock power trio Blacklight Barbarian releases its debut CD, a five-song self-titled EP, this Friday at Northside's The Comet. The free, 10 p.m. show also features Louisville's ARCH.
Blacklight Barbarian harkens back to the classic Hard Rock of the '70s, when guitar riffs stood as important as any other element of songwriting. With an atomic mid-tempo stomp, eruptive, chunky guitar and open-ended song structures lending a component of Psychedelia, Blacklight Barbarian recalls the anvil-heavy thunder and distant Blues influence of Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer, as well as their newer-breed disciples like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. Some call it "Stoner Rock," but Blacklight's brand — while still impetuous and elastic — is more focused, less bleary-eyed than most. For proof (other than the lucid production quality), check no further than the songs' lyrics, which exude a philosophical poeticism beyond the faux-mysticism of some of their peers ("Let's go down that open road/Or where it leads we'll never know" goes the chorus to opening track "Tenth Dimension").
Bookended by the sweeping sounds of ocean waves, Blacklight's debut smokes with unfurled intensity, the vocals (handled by both bassist Chris Owens and guitarist Ryan Ferrier) seethe gritty, gutsy soufulness. Ferrier's guitar tone is rich with vintage, warm distortion, while Owens and drummer Scott Whisner have a mind-meld lock that makes them one of the tightest rhythms sections around.
"Mohave" shows the band's progressive sense of writing, as the cut shifts time signatures and feels throughout, the snaking guitar runs giving way to a broad, brash soundscape during the bridge. No track on the EP clocks in under five minutes, but they never feel meandering or self-indulgent. Closing track "Words and Smoke" nears the 10-minute mark, but there's never a wasted movement; the rumbling mid-section features an extensive bluesy, panning guitar solo, but the band's knack for impulsive playing keeps you riveted. (myspace.com/blacklightbarbarian)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com