Below the Fold
Because Otis Taylor has mastered the tradition of taking a single chord and driving it straight through your heart, he’s been compared to John Lee Hooker. Because he knows the banjo—not merely its Appalachian vernacular, but also its African heritage—his CDs are favored by brainier aficionados of folk and roots. If the music on Below the Fold can be called regional, it must be from a place you’d see on one of those exaggeratedly compressed maps, where, in this case, the mining towns of West Virginia lie adjacent to the Mississippi Delta, and beyond them both across a shortened ocean, the hulk of Africa looms. Philosophically, Taylor is a student of history; technically, he’s a spell-caster. This fertile combination yields pulsing, fully alive blues pastorals that feel old and new at once.