Monday, September 28, 2009


(I originally wrote this piece for the Web site my oldest friend Dale Adams runs and hosts for his music engineering company, The Architek. Dale is a recording engineer and producer in Atlanta, and thought it might be interesting content to write a post on some new music and wine, something we both appreciate. Though it was penned a year ago, I wanted to share it with everyone on Under The Grape Tree. This is an excerpt from the original post, entitled ."Haunting The Senses". The music is Otis Taylor’s “Truth Is Not Fiction,” and the wine is Gros Nore Bandol 2006.)

Otis Taylor is a bluesman in the rawest sense of the term, penning songs that are steeped in roots, folk and soul, choosing to utilize instruments like banjo and cello to paint stark, bitter landscapes that he labels “trance blues.”

My wife and I first became aware of him while watching the recent Mark Wahlberg movie “Shooter.” Part of the movie’s soundtrack was an amazingly stirring tune called “Nasty Letter.” Emotive and effecting, the story brings out raw, bloody feelings of longing and despair. Conjuring images of dust, dark and cold earth, it is amongst the most primal of songscapes I have heard since first hearing the old mono recordings of Robert Johnson and Elmore James.

There are 12 songs on his Truth Is Not Fiction CD. The first song on the disc, “Rosa, Rosa” is an homage to freedom fighter Rosa Parks. “Kitchen Towel” follows with the tale of a Native American family’s failure and brutal demise. “Comb Your Brown Hair,” “Babies Don’t Lie,” and “Be My Frankenstein” all touch on love, life and living in such a desolate, vividly provocative way, his vocals resonating up from subtle to berserk, reminiscent of Screaming Jay Hawkins. Like driving a long desert highway, as you come over the horizon, the song “House of the Crosses” delves deep into human suffering with a fictitious story of a young boy who grows up to be the prison guard to his murderous father. With only acoustic guitar and cello behind him, the story winds through a barren landscape.

With each passing song, the images of a long journey, wrought with anguish, foreboding and despair wash over you, with an underlying naked beauty that glimmered hope in at least the tiny corners of its tone. “Nasty Letter” chimes in with a cold reminder that love is not always kind, the story revolving around a harsh goodbye. Again, only acoustic guitar and cello are there to prop up the heartbreaking lyrics.

The record finishes up with the standard “Baby Please Don’t Go,” a plea to the listener to stay awhile, and give solace to the words and music Taylor constructs.

While I wanted to post the video for "Nasty Letter," what I found on YouTube was weird so check out the song "Walk On Water:"

So why Bandol? Well, Bandol in general is predominantly Mourvedre from the Provence in France. Legendary reds that cry out “dusty, earthy wines” the Gros Nore Bandol is indicative of the terroir – red clay and pebbles. The Mourvedre gives the wine a gritty tannic grip, like walking in a desert for days with no water. Grenache and Cinsault ease the dryness with glimpses of sexy red fruit, lending to its acidity and complexity. The Mourvedre however, gives the wine a dark, brooding depth, almost mysterious with its opaque color in the glass, and the dense, concentrated mouthfeel. Robust and feral, the wine gains momentum in the glass, taking in oxygen and releasing increasing glimpses into its shadowy personae.

Otis Taylor and Bandol. Light a candle, plug in, pour and enjoy.

1 comment:

Cold Steel Knives said...

nice article here. i like this very much. thanks for sharing this with us.