Review by Thom Jurek
AMG Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Livingston Taylor is now working at lightning speed. It’s only been four years since There You Are Again was issued. Before that, it had been more than a decade. Taylor’s not exactly worried about working the circuit. Besides being a professor at the Berklee College of Music, he tours on occasion, playing prestigious festivals and folk clubs. He also commands the respect of some of the finest musicians in America (if not on the planet), and has no trouble getting them into the studio when he decides to record. Recorded in Franklin, TN, Last Alaska Moon is a case in point. To mention a few of the expert players who grace this album, some of his compatriots here include bassist Leland Sklar; drummer Steve Gadd; guitarists Vince Gill, Chris Rodriguez, and J.T. Corenflos; keyboard ace Shane Keister, and the backing vocals of Andrea Zonn. Produced by Glenn Rosenstein, the set includes ten originals, “Answer My Prayer” with Carole Bayer Sager, and an utterly reinvented version of Michael Jackson's “The Girl Is Mine” in duet with nephew Ben Taylor. The title track reflects his polished folk stylings just as “Everybody Is Just Like Me” walks the jazz side of adult pop and could have been recorded by Michael Franks with its breezy swing and slippery vocal tags. Elsewhere, “Henry” and “I’m in a Pickle” walk the bluegrass side of the fence — the latter with John G. McLane's steel pan drums accompanying Aubrey Hanie's fiddle and Dan Dugmore's Dobro. Zonn’s vocal contributions to these tracks — she is on the vast majority of them — cannot be understated; she is equally adept at singing jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, folk...whatever is put in front of her. Zonn adds depth, warmth, and dimension to Taylor’s trademark tenor, which still uncannily echoes his younger brother James. Taylor’s skill at writing classic American standard pop is on display here in “Answer My Prayer,” with his voice finding a phrasing that is his own yet evocative of an earlier era in American song. Fans of Taylor will no doubt deeply enjoy this carefully crafted and artistically wrought collection.