The skittering rockabilly title track of Kate Taylor’s new album, riding along Albert Lee’s propulsive lead guitar lines, perfectly conveys Taylor’s jubilation and her exuberant spirit. Soaring background vocals shimmer in call-and-response to Taylor’s insistent pleading in the chorus—”this feels like heaven to me/why wait?/why wait for heaven?”—which embraces the life and love we find in front of us instead of waiting for the right time for love to be perfect. The choogling tempo descend into a swaggering blues refrain before driving on in rollicking style. “Why Wait!”—one of two Taylor originals on the album—combines the rocking funkiness of Bonnie Bramlett, the grittiness of Lucinda Williams, and Taylor’s genius for capturing the moment in memorable lyrics.
Why Wait! announces that Kate Taylor is back and ready to rock, ready to express herself in her soulful, soaring vocals, and ready to seize the moment and not wait around any longer. Fifty years after the release of her debut album, Sister Kate, Taylor and Peter Asher, who produced Sister Kate, got together again for this new album—along with Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, and Danny Kortchmar, who all played on the debut album—and chose songs that were just right for Taylor’s soulful voice. In addition to Sklar, Kunkel, and Kortchmar, she’s joined on the album by Waddy Wachtel and Lee on guitar, Dan Dugmore on pedal steel, and Scarlet Rivera on fiddle, among others. It’s an all-star cast of musicians that leaves us wanting to wait no longer to hear the music.
The album kicks off the Taylor bidding good morning in a jaunty, bright, swaggering psychedelically jazzed up version of “Good Day Sunshine.” Taylor ad libs through the song, shouting out “good morning” in the opening verse and “we’re taking a walk on a beautiful day” on the closing chorus. According to Taylor, “Peter’s daughter Victoria Asher laid down the distinctive, otherworldly background vocals and the band swings it. Peter encouraged me to let the ad libs rip, and ‘I guess I got a little out there at the end. It’s a fun song to sing!’”
Jeff Alan Ross lays down a bluesy, gospel-inflected bed of keys over which Taylor’s spiraling vocals float like magic on “He,” an Ed Sheeran/Amy Wadge composition; Taylor’s version of the song dazzles with a slow-burning fervor that weaves its way into our hearts and souls with its shivery organ and languid vocals. Taylor’s bouncy vocals ride along Sklar’s funked up bass and Lee’s twangy leads on the Taj Mahal-penned “He Got the Katy”; Taylor’s gritty vocals plumb the emotional depths of the tune, propelling it with her rhythmic genius.
Taylor invites us into her smoky jazz lounge with her sultry vocals on “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” the Jimmy Wilson/Larry Harrison song most associated with Nancy Wilson, laid over a river of Ross’ cascading piano notes, while she delivers a lush version of her brother James’ “I Will Follow.” Taylor says, “Singing a song of James’ is a vehicle for experiencing the world through his eyes and heart. You are taken pretty darn deep.”
Rolling guitar fingerpicking flows around and over soaring pedal steel strains on the gorgeous “I Got a Message.” Taylor was “inspired to write this song after her meetings with a Buddhist Rimpache and a Hindu teacher.” The gently flowing song washes over us with its clear message of love and embracing the universal golden rule of treating others with compassion and love. Taylor’s bouncy vocals deliver the just-right groove on the pop standard “Tell Him,” backed by the Victoria Asher’s soulful background vocals.
Peter Asher introduces “The Glory of Love” with a recitative about their fifty years of working together and the lessons about love they have learned over the years. The duo turn in a jazzy duet on this old chestnut. Taylor’s plaintive vocals convey the poignant longing of a lover in her soulful take on Lowell George’s “Long Distance Love,” a version that sounds as if it might have been straight off an Andrew Gold album. Taylor delivers a stunning version of the Staples’ gospel standard “Don’t Knock.” As she says, “This song has a joyous groove and a mega call and answer chorus that keeps the feet tapping and the dance going. I have sung this song for decades and finally had a chance to put down this solid rendition for this album, with Albert Lee on guitar and the amazing Scarlet Rivera adding a new twist to the song with her fiddle. The chorus includes my daughters, Liz Witham and Aretha Taylor.”
Why Wait! closes out with Taylor’s versions of Tommy James’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” Etta James’ “Stop the Wedding, and her nephew Isaac Taylor’s “Beams of the Queen.” Of the album’s closing song, she says: “My nephew Isaac Taylor wrote this Martha’s Vineyard anthem about the Gay Head Lighthouse that shines in his front door (and in mine also). The lighthouse is a beacon of hope, home, and stability. The Queen in this song is the shape of the lighthouse — she looks like the queen on a chessboard.” Taylor plays with a group of her friends, The Ukeladies, which includes Laurie David, Joanne Ashe, Amy Irving, and Judy Belushi.
We’re fortunate we don’t have to wait any longer for Kate Taylor’s new album. Why Wait! showcases Taylor’s vocal range and her dazzling ability to make any song her own, and it illustrates Taylor’s lyrical and musical genius. Why Wait! is well worth the wait.
Why Wait! is available for pre-order/pre-save now – HERE.