James Taylor – ‘JT’ vinyl review

There’s only one way to describe James Taylor, whether you like his music or not, and that’s as a legend. The American singer-songwriter has had an incredible impact on music, inspiring a new generation of artists with his consistent output and timeless classics. A skilled musician, vocalist and lyricist, Taylor still tours the world today pulling in huge audiences with every show. Following his 75th birthday earlier this year, Music on Vinyl is putting out a series of vinyl reissues from Taylor’s extensive catalogue starting with his eighth studio album ‘JT’, originally released in 1977.

This limited-edition release is pressed onto 180-gram red coloured vinyl, giving it a sharp and clear sound. Featuring a deluxe gatefold sleeve with the original artwork, the release includes a one-page colour insert that features an image of Taylor on one side and the album’s lyrics on the other. ‘JT’ is considered to be one of Taylor’s finest albums and he picked up a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his version of Jimmy Jones’ ‘Handy Man’, a song that peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Whether you’re discovering Taylor’s music for the first time or you’re a long-time fan, ‘JT’ is a good gateway into his incredible catalogue.

Never one to be pigeon-holed when it comes to his musical style, Taylor covers plenty of ground across the 12 songs included on ‘JT’. Opening with ‘Your Smiling Face’, a song that has become one of his signature hits, the record kicks off with a soft rock adult contemporary feel. The breezy love song makes way for the gorgeous easy listening feel of ‘There We Are’ before Taylor’s fantastic cover of songwriter Danny Kortchmar’s “Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”, which is one of the album’s highlights. Already across three songs Taylor effortlessly switches genres, with each one sounding completely natural for him.

This continues across the record with Linda Ronstadt providing harmony vocals on the Country-tinged “Bartender’s Blues”, another standout moment from an album that is chock full of gems. Elsewhere on the record Taylor meditates on living a fulfilling life on the contemplative “Secret O’ Life”, collaborates with then-wife Carly Simon (who provides harmony vocals) on the gentle ‘Terra Nova’, and leans into his rockier tendencies on the almost spoken-word verses of ‘I Was Only Telling a Lie’. The album comes to a close with the stripped-down ‘If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight’, an acoustic-driven number that sees Taylor trying to navigate a tricky romantic situation without causing his love interest to run for the hills.

‘JT’ is a stunning record that remains timeless to this day. They don’t make singer-songwriters like James Taylor anymore and we’re lucky that he’s still making music and touring. Without a doubt one of the greatest singer-songwriters the world has ever seen, Taylor’s work is more than deserving of these wonderful reissues from Music on Vinyl. I can’t wait to see which of his other albums will get a reissue over the coming months.

Track listing: Side One – 1. Your Smiling Face 2. There We Are 3. Honey Don’t Leave L.A. 4. Another Grey Morning 5. Bartender’s Blues 6. Secret O’ Life Side Two – 1. Handy Man 2. I Was Only Telling a Lie 3. Looking For Love on Broadway 4. Terra Nova 5. Traffic Jam 6. If I Keep My Heart Out of Sight Record label: Music on Vinyl Release date: 4th August 2023 Buy ‘JT’ now

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