Otis Taylor Clovis people: vol. 3

At a time when the blues are too often mired in 12-bar banality, Otis Taylor shines like a beacon in the night. The 61-year-old veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist re-emerged from a long hiatus in 1995 and has since released some of the genre's most compelling contemporary work. That run continues on this, his eighth album. He's never been afraid to stretch the envelope, as shown by the instrumental line-up on opening track "Rain So Hard": Theremin, pedal steel, cornet and cello. The diverse instrumentation complements, but never overshadows, the strength of his persuasive vocals and eloquent writing. These songs generally have a softer tone than some of the angry polemics of earlier albums. "Lee and Arnez" is soft and gently spooky, with haunting violin and guitar from guest Gary Moore, while "She's Ice In The Desert" is a tender love song ("when you open your heart and a sound comes in, it's love") also featuring Moore. A lovely record. (Telarc/Concord)