(4 / 5)
An album recorded in Texas and marking ten years as a recording artist, “Codeine Dreams” opens proceedings with Sean’s piano skills and some mellow sax licks from Joe Morales. A track that comes alive with the versatility and light and shade of Sean Taylor’s rasping yet smooth vocals.
Add to the mix, bass, Hammond organ and electric guitar from Mark Hallman, a spot of leccie guitar from Sean himself and backing vox from Jaimee Harris; as an opener to this twelve track album, it is the perfect scene setter.
Sean’s work has already been compared to that of Springsteen and John Martyn, and as a guitarist he is a cut above and he has a distinctive vocal style. He has assembled an ace team of players for this record to work on some top drawer material, all but one cut penned by Sean.
Sean has pulled together a real ‘A Team’ of players for this album. Leonard Cohen’s band leader Roscoe Beck, who is also a world famous producer and his credits include Jennifer Warnes’ iconic album, “Famous Blue Raincoat,” plays double bass on one cut, “Troubador.” Danny Thompson, who played bass with John Martyn, Donovan, Richard Thompson and was a member of Pentangle, pops up on the closer, “Better Man.”
Andre Moran provides slide and electric guitar, Ephraim Owens trumpet on track three; “The Cruelty of Man.” Mike Hardwick on pedal steel, and Jaimee Harris providing backing vocals.
This is primarily a roots and blues flavoured collection, with a sprinkling of country to add to the recipe. “Run To The Water” is a highlight; driving bass from multi-skilled Mark Hallman who also plays drums, organ and sings backing vocals on this track, and takes the producer’s chair. Slide guitar from Andre Moran and Sean’s electric guitar blend well.
Sean’s vocals remind me of Matt Johnson of The The, especially on the superbly dark “Bad Case Of The Blues”. Tremendous valued added by Hana Piranha’s haunting violin, accompanied by Andre Moran’s slide work.
“Beautiful Mind” is a stripped back two-hander between Sean’s voice and guitars, and Mark Hallman providing bass, drums, piano, ambient guitar and organ. There is great depth and richness, despite there being just two contributors to this standout cut.
Parts of this album are haunting and melancholic, yet beautiful at the same time. It has all the hallmarks of a quality mainstream production and for me, the track , “Beautiful Mind,” is rope for serious radio airplay.
I read with trepidation that we get a cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” on this album, and sadly for me that track is superfluous. That said, guest artist, folk star Eliza Gilkyson’s backing vocals bring this track back from the edge.
Sean was on top form and ably assisted by a cracking team for his eighth album release; a record that shows maturity, confidence, growth and an artist having the total freedom to be himself and not chase trends.
By Ian Shipley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’