Taylor Hollingsworth: Life with a Slow Ear

RIYL: Steve Earle, Conor Oberst, The Jayhawks

If 2009 were to yield a list of its strangest LPs, I, for one, would nominate the aptly named Life with a Slow Ear for at least an honorable mention. Not that its ragged, homespun ruminations offer anything especially unusual in and of itself; heading up the country and getting back to the roots is a popular path these days, especially for musicians who hunger for a respite from a daily diet of scorching guitars, amplifiers turned up to the max and rhythmic onslaughts that could replicate a small tsunami.

The surprise then isn’t that Taylor Hollingsworth follows suit. A journeyman musician, he spent time in the service of Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band before upping both attitude and amplitude for his initial series of solo outings. However, now that he’s opted to unplug, the thing that separates him from his fellow rustic ramblers is – in a word – his vocals (That’s two words. -Ed.), a high-whining cornhusker of a drawl that suggests a cartoonish attempt at hillbilly authenticity. It undercuts any attempt to take these musings seriously, if for no other reason than it’s such a jolt every time he commands the microphone. While one could concede there’s some synchronicity in his chipmunk chatter and the twangy plunking of “I Didn’t Know It Was the Devil” and “Westfalia,” anytime the mood turns somewhat surreptitious – as in “96 Crayons” and the blustery boogie of “New Orleans Blues” – Hollingsworth actually sounds silly. Attempting to give some weight to “Sin City Blues” – which references both Gram Parsons and Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Memphis with Those Memphis Blues Again” – Hollingsworth’s voice betrays him, even despite his obvious instrumental dexterity. So while Life with a Slow Ear Is otherwise an admirable effort, it’s a less than critical ear that’s required. (Team Love 2009)

Taylor Hollingsworth MySpace page


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