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Review: Livingston Taylor, Last Alaska Moon

Livingston Taylor
Last Alaska Moon
[Chesky/Coconut Bay (2010)]

With his first album in 5 years, Last Alaska Moon, James Taylor’s younger brother Livingston Taylor, 60, a teacher at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, offers a master class in songwriting craftsmanship. He accompanying his light, smile-inducing vocals on acoustic guitar, piano, and celeste and is joined by such top-shelf players as Steve Gadd (drums), Glenn Worf (bass), Dan Tyminski (acoustic guitar and mandolin), Dan Dougmore (dobro), Aubrey Haynie (mandolin and fiddle), and guitarists Vince Gill and Larry Carlton, along with a host of background singers. He skillfully sets songs about family, friendship, and faith to masterfully-executed folk-pop, jazz-pop, bluegrass, and country arrangements. His sense of humor rebounds during the Caribbean-ized country pop tune, “I Am A Pickle,” while the closing tune, “Call Me Carolina,” alludes to “Carolina Day,” from his 1970 debut album. Joined by nephew Ben Taylor, he serves up an album-peaking reconstruction of Michael Jackson’s “The Girl Is Mine.” Taylor’s love of flying shines through the opening title track and “Kitty Hawk,” which equates the history of aviation with a higher being. Christian themes run throughout the album, especially during “Answer My Prayer,” written with Carole Bayer Sager, and soon-to-be-a-yuletide-classic, “Christmas Is Almost Here.”

—Craig Harris (Chicopee, MA)

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