Recently released by Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Day! is a generous helping of original music spanning the spectrum of bluegrass styles from traditional to contemporary.
Upon listening to Wayne’s vocal style, it is apparent that he is not a typical bluegrass singer (don’t ask for a definition of what a typical bluegrass singer is), which is no doubt part of his success — a unique and identifiable voice and style. His website biographical notes mention his start playing rock and roll in the late 60’s, being influenced by Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, before being converted to bluegrass upon seeing Lester Flatt and Mac Wiseman at a concert in the early 70’s. He later received formal training, earning a bachelor’s degree from The Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific.
Wayne Taylor came to the attention of most bluegrass fans through his eighteen year tenure with the United States Navy Band, but since leaving Country Current and retiring from the Navy, Taylor has created his individual identity with original material and his personal style, both of which are front and center on his newest recording. Thirteen of the fourteen songs were written or co-written by Taylor, which is remarkable in itself, with a diversity of topic, tempo, and tonality.
One of the highlights in this collection is a duet by Wayne and guest Melissa Keech-Armstrong, Two Kindred Hearts. Keech-Armstrong, who has a beautiful voice, sings the tenor part an octave higher, allowing both voices space to stand apart and at the same time compliment each other in harmony. It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Day is a bouncy, happy song with a little old-time feel created by the rhythmic fiddle bowing by Emory Lester and loose-string banjo Mark Delaney (tuned to an open F).
Another song that spoke to me was Terra’s Wedding Song, written from the perspective of a father giving his daughter’s hand in marriage. If I had heard this song six months ago, could sing better than I can, and could have sung without breaking down (none of which is the case), I would have sung this to my daughter at her August wedding. There are few things more emotional for a soft-hearted dad than letting go of his little girl.
In recent years, it seems there are more and more projects released which feature a good singer backed by an all-star group of hired guns, which has certainly created a nice group of recordings, but ones which are not representative of what an audience might see at a live appearance of such artists. Along with Wayne Taylor, Appaloosa (Emory Lester on mandolin and fiddle, Mark Delaney on banjo, and Kene Hyatt on bass) has created a sound they can reproduce at their live performances, and I look to hearing them in person sometime soon.