Woman's Gotta Have It
Filmed at The Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL 9-26-09 with Ona Watson.
Song available on Taylor's new album, The Distance.
On sale now! Pick your copy today!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review - The New Taylor Hicks Album, "The Distance"

It’s almost here folks! On March 10, the new indie album from Taylor Hicks drops! The post American Idol album – the rock, country, gospel, folkie, soul and R&B album we are so highly anticipating! Yes, you get all those Taylor’s in one comfy album right here! AOL leaked the album on Tuesday and we boy did we get a preview, er, we actually got the entire album! Whoa! Check it out here!

This is one MAJOR departure from the “Idol” album on JRecords. It doesn’t really sound anything like it. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed that first album, I though it had some great tunes on it. This new album, however, is pure, untouched, unfeathered Taylor Hicks with about as many genres and styles as one can muster on one album. A real treasure in this day and age of one sound, one genre albums. If you’re looking for that, well, this is not the album for you, but if you love a mixture of songs styles with an emphasis on songwriting, then this will definitely ruffle your skirt. I can say with complete conviction, that if Taylor had stayed with the major label, this album would never have gotten made – and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Going indie is the key to Taylor Hicks’ freedom as a performer, singer and songwriter. Below are the 11 songs that appear on the basic album with 3 extra tracks appearing on various exclusive versions from Walmart, Target and another spot I’m not yet aware of. Here are my thoughts on the tracks. I’d love to get your impressions as well! And don't forget, March 10th. Write that date down to head to your local retailer and add this gem to your CD collection! Pre-Order the album here!

The Distance: Great uplifting anthem to start off the album with a punch. A self penned tune, quite a departure from his past writing style! I was really trying to figure out the influences on this song and came up with a cross between Billy Joel and John Denver. I love the sentiment of song – an attempt to bridge the barriers in the world – especially relevant today. A powerfully delivered tune. A-

What’s Right Is Right: Absolutely the best choice as the first single from the album. A terrific vocal along with the bluesy, sensual sax and the smooth jazz sounds of the organ makes this an instant winner and tailored made for the Adult Contemporary market. The lyrics aren’t going to pierce any new musical barriers, but it goes down like a familiar warm cup of hot chocolate and is very listenable on repeated plays. A

New Found Freedom: This must be the gospel sound we’ve heard Taylor talk about when he describes the various genres on the album. Like The Distance, it sounds like a guy whose sense of self is crystal clear – a guy who has the world at his disposal – a real sense of freedom from the struggling path that has gotten him to this point in life. A very uplifting song that I could easily hear on one of the Christian stations. Again, another 180 degree departure for Taylor). B

Nineteen: Oh yea. I really love this song. I love this song for its simplicity. Songs with a socially relevant message and ones which can incorporate that message with a story line just captivate me - and this one delivers in spades. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out the song was inspired by Pat Tillman, the ex football star that was killed in Iraq. Probably the meaningful, most political song on the album. Definitely a great candidate for a single marketed to country radio. B+

Once Upon a Lover: Whoa! Some very cool scratchy style old vinyl effects to start the song off! You know, we just do not hear songs like this very often anymore. A creative and interesting touch I must say. Leave it to Mr. Hicks to find that idea like this and stick it in there (and if this was Mr. Climie’s idea, kudos to you, sir). A very well constructed song with a great vocal that completely left me swinging and swaying to the beat. There’s no question that Taylor’s earlier song on the new Early Works album, Hold Onto Your Love, was written in the same calypso mode. This one is a grown up version of that. B+

Seven Mile Breakdown: Hell ya! This is the song for those looking for the kick-ass bar band Taylor! This is just plain great! Written by his good friend Wynn Christian, it’s a song he’s been singing forever, so it seems. The driving drum beat keeps the song moving forward. Definitely has the potential to be the best song for a live performance – in fact, he did a wonderful job capturing that “live concert” sound in this studio recording. Not an easy task. One of my top 5 songs on the album. A+

Maybe You Should: This is the song for those looking for the singer/songwriter, the acoustic, tender, and emotional man. I’ll admit, the first few listens had me reaching for the extra strength Kleenex. What a raw song for Taylor – a very personal lyric, no doubt. This ditty has overtaken “The Fall” as my favorite song of all time from him. Beautiful lyrics – check! Beautiful melody – check! Beautiful arrangement – check! Yes, everything about this song hits home with me. A++

Keepin’ It Real: Ha!!!!! You go Taylor! I’m a sucker for a song that injects a bit of truth in a seemingly light, cutsey song. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and OJ…. We have your number. Oh yea…. I don’t know why I love this song so much. I just love lyrics, “she’s got the Paparazzi behind her Maserati...” and any song where I can hear Taylor say the word “Bootie” can’t be all bad. ;) Yes indeed….. B+

I Live On a Battlefield: Another top 5 song for me, written by Nick Lowe. Vocally, it fits right into his pocket – as well as style-wise. A bit of arrangement departure from the original, but it just grips you with a tight arrangement, not to mention that it is delivered masterfully. This song reminds me of the old folky songs from the early 60s with phrases such as “muddy waters”. A definite throwback here. A-

Wedding Day Blues: Okay, I knew this was coming, but I just don’t feel this song. The words are cute – reminds me of the storyline in the movie “The Graduate” – a twisty turn, ironical lyric but the melody and the construction of the song isn’t sinking in with me. I’ll definitely put this one in the novelty song column. I’ve give Taylor two points for this - one, it sure isn’t something you’ll see matched on your local radio station and two, he's got a great sense of humor! ;) Dare devil Taylor all the way! C+

Woman’s Gotta Have It: Without a doubt, this song is my favorite cut on the album. Taylor and guest vocalist and American Idol Season 5 finalist, Elliott Yamin, both shine on this wonderful old 1972 soul classic from the great Bobby Womack. It peaked at #1 on the R&B charts back then. It just goes to prove that a great song is a great song, no matter how many years later it gets performed. That gut wrenching growl in the middle of the song – true to form as Womack did it on his own original. I adore that Taylor kept in the opening, speaking part of the original as well. This is a technique that was very common during the Motown days of the 60s and 70s and has been a lost art for decades. Their vocal blend and the back and forth banter that closes the song is just plain wonderful to hear from these two great soul stylists. It’s a good ‘ol joyous song and one that will get many repeats on my IPod. A+++


tishlp said...

Well now I'm salivating to hear the music!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful review Griz!
Think we are are the same track as far as favorites. It's almost hard to pick one as I like them all, and warming up to Wedding Bell Blues might be good live.
CJ - texassoul

Anonymous said...

Love your review Griz...I would like to hear "Once Upon A Lover" on Dancing With The Stars when the dancers do the cha cha or salsa. This is a great dance tune.

I want to defend Wedding Bell Blues...I can see this song as a country video with Cledus T. Judd the king of country-fried comedy. It would be better that "I'd like to check you for ticks" by Brad Paisley...LOL

Taylor has something for everyone on this new CD...I love music so it is all good for me. Thanks

juliegr said...

I've been enjoying the album since 10:30 p.m., 2/24 when the AOL preview surfaced. Although I didn't need your review to help me make up my mind -- unlike some numbskulls who can't think for themselves -- it is a pleasure to see that we are in agreement on this effort by Taylor Hicks. He got his "New Found Freedom" and now he's "Taking It To The Streets".

Trixi said...

I listened to about 2/3 of it this morning and made notes. I just listend to the rest of it. I have only listened to each song once. But my intial response is hell yeah!!

The Distance- country, voice sounds really good.

WRIR- I liked it from the 1st time I heard it.

NFF- I wrote down this morning, thumbs down. I will have to go back and listen again.

Nineteen- yes

Once Upon a Lover- yes

Seven Mile- 1st response so so. Will have to re-listen

Maybe You Should- YES

Keeping It Real- Campy, loved it, especially who he dissess.

Wedding Day Blues- Cute song, bad boy song- loved it.

Battlefield-liked the funky, grooving undertone of the song.

Women Gotta Have It- really liked the old R&B sound and style. Love me some Elliott also, can't wait for his new cd.

My inital reaction to this cd is I like. I can't wait to hear them live. I can't remember which song it was but I can see and hear Taylor taking us church, on it!!!

marymagdalene said...

When I first heard "Once Upon A Lover" I also thought that I would LOVE to hear this on "Dancing with the Stars" when the dancers do the salsa, or the cha cha...

Anyway, this will be a phenomenal tune to dance along with...

Anonymous said...

Great review Griz!

Agree - the Distance is a great first song. I'm hearing Bob Seiger big time on this tune.

WRIR - perfect 1st single! Can't get enough of this song. Classic Taylor at his finest.

NFF - sorry, just can't get into this one.

Nineteen - LOVE this song. Many can relate to this. I have a 19-year-old nephew who just enlisted in the Marines. I am very proud of him - yet apprehensive at the same time. I really feel this could hit the country charts like wildfire!

Once Upon a Lover - LOVE IT! I am a salsa dancer (amateur) and I absolutely LOVE this latin flair! Makes me get up and dance very time I hear it!

7 Mile - classic blues/rock sound.

Maybe You Should - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS! Taylor's genuine vocals are front and center on this one. I would have to say I like this more than The Right Place. I can't seem to stop playing this one over and over.

Keeping It Real - Funny as hell!

Wedding Day Blues - Could live without this one. Just okay.

Battlefield - great blues and I have always loved Taylor's falsetto!

Women Gotta Have It - Classic Motown! This takes me back to high school. I absolutely love this! I would love to see Taylor and Elliott perform this together.


Crazymomelon said...

Well, Griz, you know how I feel about HOTYL, and you are spot on in calling OUAL a grown up version! It's my favorite track on this cd full of great music.
Funny, I didn't think I had any Latin blood, but I am totally digging Latin-flavor Taylor Hicks!

Anonymous said...

Pretty much in agreement griz. I prefer Maybe You Should to Woman's Gotta Have It. I had heard WGHI live so preferring the live version is maybe the difference for me.

But Maybe You Should is so fantastic. Taylor sings this song like he lived it.

taylorfan06 said...

I can't wait to see him next week at the Belly Up Tavern. I know he'll be tearing it up!!!!

I wasn't totally crazy about the new songs (with a few exceptions), but I really miss them since they were taken down. What does that tell you?


caryl said...

Maybe You Should hurts my heart. This needs to be a single. I really like Wedding Day Blues, too. It's fun. And Woman's Got To Have It makes me want to sing along. I think there are some great tunes on this CD.