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James Taylor - American Standard

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American Standard

JAMES TAYLOR

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For pop artists of a certain generation, taking on the Great American Songbook has become somewhat of a rite of passage, occasionally bordering on cliché. Some, like Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon, got to it early in their careers, while legacy boomers like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney offered up their reinterpretations of jazz standards as late-career curiosities, or in the case of Rod Stewart -- five volumes and counting -- reinvented themselves with them. James Taylor is no stranger to cover songs; everything from early rock to Motown and cowboy songs have popped up in his catalog, not to mention a pair Christmas albums and an entire 2008 set called Covers. As one of the most revered American singer/songwriters of the mid- to late 20th century, it seems almost inevitable that he would eventually take his turn to honor the generation of pop tunesmiths that preceded him. On American Standard, Taylor applies his gentle magic to classics like "My Blue Heaven" and "The Nearness of You," refashioning their well-worn melodies into the friendly and inviting mode that is his signature. Wisely eschewing the orchestral big-band approach, he stays on familiar ground, recording on a smaller scale at his barn studio in Western Massachusetts and working with his regular stable of players. He also downplays the role of the piano, opting instead to base the material around the nimble intertwining of his own acoustic guitar and that of jazz guitar wiz John Pizzarelli. The result is a relaxed musical conversation that perfectly underscores Taylor's tender vocals, especially on his sweet rendition of "Moon River," a song so well-suited to him it seems like it should have already existed before now. This sense of pleasant familiarity more or less guides the entire album as he turns "Teach Me Tonight" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" into James Taylor songs written by other artists. Horns and lush backing vocals do appear here and there, as does a slightly misguided dip into a borderline cartoonish vocal baritone on the otherwise strong "Ol' Man River," but the best parts of American Standard occur in the intimate moments that constitute Taylor's wheelhouse and of which there are more than enough to satisfy.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo

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American Standard

James Taylor

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1
My Blue Heaven
00:02:43

Stuart Duncan, Fiddle, AssociatedPerformer - John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Walter Donaldson, Composer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - George Whiting, Author - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

2
Moon River
00:03:13

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Mercer, ComposerLyricist - Henry Mancini, ComposerLyricist - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Producer, Recording Supervisor, StudioPersonnel - Larry Goldings, Melodica, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor.

3
Teach Me Tonight
00:02:58

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Recording Producer - Jimmy Johnson, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sammy Cahn, Author - Luis Conte, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Gene DePaul, Composer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Walt Fowler, Flugelhorn, Trumpet, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

4
As Easy As Rolling Off A Log
00:02:50

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Jack Scholl, ComposerLyricist - Lou Marini, Clarinet, AssociatedPerformer - M.K. Jerome, ComposerLyricist - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

5
Almost Like Being In Love
00:03:42

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Arnold McCuller, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Frederick Loewe, Composer - Alan Jay Lerner, Author - Lou Marini, Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Kate Markowitz, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Dorian Holley, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Andrea Zonn, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor.

6
Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat
00:04:11

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - FRANK LOESSER, ComposerLyricist - Arnold McCuller, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Jerry Douglas, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - Kate Markowitz, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Larry Goldings, Organ, AssociatedPerformer - Dorian Holley, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Andrea Zonn, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

7
The Nearness Of You
00:03:52

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Ned Washington, Author - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - HOAGY CARMICHAEL, Composer - Luis Conte, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Walt Fowler, Flugelhorn, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

8
You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught
00:02:26

Stuart Duncan, Fiddle, AssociatedPerformer - John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Rodgers, ComposerLyricist - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Oscar Hammerstein II , ComposerLyricist - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

9
God Bless The Child
00:03:21

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Billie Holiday, ComposerLyricist - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Jerry Douglas, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - Arthur Herzog Jr., ComposerLyricist - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

10
Pennies From Heaven
00:02:52

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Arthur Johnston, ComposerLyricist - Steve Gadd, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Johnny Burke, ComposerLyricist - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Larry Goldings, Organ, AssociatedPerformer - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

11
My Heart Stood Still
00:03:27

Stuart Duncan, Fiddle, AssociatedPerformer - John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Rodgers, Composer - Lorenz Hart, Author - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Luis Conte, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

12
Ol' Man River
00:02:53

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Jerome Kern, ComposerLyricist - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Oscar Hammerstein II , ComposerLyricist - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

13
It's Only A Paper Moon
00:03:11

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Hurdy Gurdy , Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Harold Arlen, ComposerLyricist - Luis Conte, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Arnold McCuller, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Billy Rose, ComposerLyricist - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Kate Markowitz, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Dorian Holley, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Viktor Krauss, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Andrea Zonn, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Edgar Yipsel Harburg, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2020 James Taylor., Under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord.

14
The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
00:03:20

John Pizzarelli, Producer, Nylon-String Guitar, Recording Producer, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Rodgers, Composer - JAMES TAYLOR, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Recording Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Oscar Hammerstein II , Author - DAVE O'DONNELL, Producer, Recording Engineer, Recording Producer, StudioPersonnel - Caroline Taylor, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2020 James Taylor.

Album Description

For pop artists of a certain generation, taking on the Great American Songbook has become somewhat of a rite of passage, occasionally bordering on cliché. Some, like Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon, got to it early in their careers, while legacy boomers like Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney offered up their reinterpretations of jazz standards as late-career curiosities, or in the case of Rod Stewart -- five volumes and counting -- reinvented themselves with them. James Taylor is no stranger to cover songs; everything from early rock to Motown and cowboy songs have popped up in his catalog, not to mention a pair Christmas albums and an entire 2008 set called Covers. As one of the most revered American singer/songwriters of the mid- to late 20th century, it seems almost inevitable that he would eventually take his turn to honor the generation of pop tunesmiths that preceded him. On American Standard, Taylor applies his gentle magic to classics like "My Blue Heaven" and "The Nearness of You," refashioning their well-worn melodies into the friendly and inviting mode that is his signature. Wisely eschewing the orchestral big-band approach, he stays on familiar ground, recording on a smaller scale at his barn studio in Western Massachusetts and working with his regular stable of players. He also downplays the role of the piano, opting instead to base the material around the nimble intertwining of his own acoustic guitar and that of jazz guitar wiz John Pizzarelli. The result is a relaxed musical conversation that perfectly underscores Taylor's tender vocals, especially on his sweet rendition of "Moon River," a song so well-suited to him it seems like it should have already existed before now. This sense of pleasant familiarity more or less guides the entire album as he turns "Teach Me Tonight" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" into James Taylor songs written by other artists. Horns and lush backing vocals do appear here and there, as does a slightly misguided dip into a borderline cartoonish vocal baritone on the otherwise strong "Ol' Man River," but the best parts of American Standard occur in the intimate moments that constitute Taylor's wheelhouse and of which there are more than enough to satisfy.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo

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