Review: Kate Taylor Makes Stunning Return

Kate Taylor/Why Wait!/Red House Records/Compass Records
Four out of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

When Kate Taylor put the music biz on hold after the release of her debut album, Sister Kate (its title relates to the fact she’s James Taylor’s sibling), it seemed as if she had given it up for good. 

Although she’s released a few selective albums in the interim, the title of her new effort, Why Wait!, still seems more than a bit ironic. However, if Taylor herself shares any sense of remorse about shying from the limelight, it’s not apparent here. This feels like heaven to me, she exclaims on the album’s exuberant title track, suggesting that because the time seemed right, the chance was taken. 

Indeed, the entire effort basks in a radiant glow that finds Taylor as effusive and excited as a teen releasing a first record. The opening track, a vibrant and varied take on the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine,” reflects her sheer joy and jubilation. Good morning, world! she shouts as if beckoning everyone to awake from the slumber imposed by the shutdown in the wake of the pandemic.  

At least part of that overt enthusiasm can be attributed to the fact that she’s reunited with her original producer, Peter Asher, and the core of the session musicians she utilized the first time around—drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Danny Kortchmar and bassist Leland Sklar, joined here by a fellow member of their band The Immediate Family, Waddy Watchel —as well as guitarist Albert Lee, pedal steel player Dan Dugmore and violin player Scarlet Rivera, a one time player in Bob Dylan’s backing band. Although Taylor herself only contributes two of her own songs—the aforementioned “Why Wait!” and “I Got a Message” —she effectively makes every entry her own, filling the music with an effervescent sheen in true Taylor tradition. Her cover of brother James’ “I Will Follow” keeps to the same optimistic perspective suggested by the original, just as she reframes the Exciters’ girl group classic “Tell Him” into a buoyant cheerleader-type chant. So too, her take on “Crystal Blue Persuasion” retains the shimmer of the original while adding a distinct luster all its own. “Long Distance Love,” first recorded by Little Feat, becomes a billowy ballad via Kate’s cover.

Nevertheless, the offering that especially hits home comes in the form of the old standard “The Glory of Love,” rendered here as a fond duet between Taylor and Asher. So too, “Don’t Knock” and “Stop the Wedding” take on a celebratory groove that provides yet another uptick in the energy. 

Given that effusive appeal, one has to hope that this marks Taylor’s renewed new embrace of music-making. At the very least, it suggests that Why Wait! is, at very least, a self-fulfilling scenario.  

Photo by Heidi Wild

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