"Broken By Design" Reviewed in FolkWordsSaturday, October 17, 2015
There’s an immediate closeness to Kathleen Taylor’s music, driven by an unadorned approach and a simplicity of style that enables her songs to reach the listener with nothing at all to get in the way. A voice that expresses her lyrics cleanly and powerfully, a gentle finger picking guitar style that adds just enough but no more. And that’s what you get with her album, ’Broken By Design’ – something beautiful but incredibly simple, pure and precious, and a fine piece of American folk.
For sure, on ‘Broken By Design’ Kathleen has the help of some excellent musicians but this is essentially a ‘one-woman’ album as she pours herself through the songs. There’s her special touch for finding and expressing a melody that once it arrives stays with you and lingers long-time. Equally, there’s her gift for writing and delivering lyrics that not only make their point but make you think. From the deliciously melodic ‘Blueberry Butter’ to the powerfully emotive ‘Broken By Design’, the intense expression of ‘Human Race’ and the hypnotic grip of ‘I’ve Never Walked With You’ there’s an concentration of feeling you simply cannot ignore. The stand-out track for me is ‘Hard’ – Kathleen takes you straight into the anguished questioning of the protagonist and makes you feel the depth of every cut.
’Broken By Design’ features Kathleen Taylor (vocals, acoustic guitar) Jacob Lawson (backing vocals, violin, viola, keys, melodica, autoharp, programming) Christine Alicot (flute) David Ottenberg (upright bass) Ted Nelly (acoustic guitar) and Glenn Moody (electric cigar box guitar).
Review: Tom Franks