Before This World

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Before This World

Legendary singer/songwriter and five-time Grammy Award winning artist James Taylor presents his first collection of original recordings in over 13 years!
The album, Before This World, available on June 16th, will be released prior to US tour dates that includes a sold out performance at Fenway Park in Boston, MA on August 6th. Before This World follows his highly successful recording with Carole King, Live at the Troubadour, which was certified GOLD by the RIAA upon its 2010 release.

Price: $ 7.75

3 thoughts on “Before This World

  1. Phil in Mågnoliá "Phil-i-am"
    46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Still sounding great, after all these years, June 16, 2015
    This review is from: Before This World (Audio CD)

    I hadn’t realized that it’s been 13 years since James Taylor had issued a studio album with new original material, but it turns out that is has been that long (to be strictly correct, October Road, which was released in 2002, was his last studio album with new material; others released since then were Covers in 2008 and with his interpretations of songs written by other artists; Live at the Troubadour, with Carole King, with a mixture of songs written by Taylor, King, and others; A Christmas Album (2004); James Taylor At Christmas (2006); and the live album Amchitka The 1970 Concert That Launched Greenpeace with Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs, that was released in 2009).

    To write these new songs, James borrowed a friend’s apartment in Newport, Rhode Island, and for one weekend a month over several months in 2013 and 2014 he worked undisturbed and focused on writing, as he hadn’t been able to do for over a decade. The results are worth the long wait (well, we would have liked something sooner of course, but now that it’s here I think his fans are grateful to receive it!).

    He sounds as good as ever, as you would expect from a singer who has continued to tour and give concerts pretty much continuously for the past several decades, and it’s still James with his soft clear voice in this selection of ten songs. In fact it almost sounds like the 1970’s again. Nine of the songs are brand new James Taylor compositions, and those make up the first nine tracks of the album. The final track, Wild Mountain Thyme. is a folk song written by Francis McPeake that has been widely covered over the years and is very beautifully performed here.

    The album was recorded mostly at the Barn, the recording studio near to his home, and in producing this recording he’s brought together many of his longstanding musical collaborators including Michael Landau (guitar), Larry Goldings (keyboards), Luis Conte (percussion), Steve Gadd (drums) and Jimmy Johnson (bass). It was produced by Dave O’Donnell, who’s also been associated with James for many years.

    There are also some special guests together with James for several of the songs:

    – track 2, `You and I Again’: Yo-Yo Ma on cello
    – track 3, `Angels of Fenway’: harmony vocals by James’s wife Kim and son Henry
    – track 8, `Before This World/Jolly Springtime’: Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Sting harmony vocals
    – track 10, `Wild Mountain Thyme’: harmony vocals by James’s wife Kim and son Henry

    Themes of the songs on this album are also familiar to those of us who are longtime fans of James – `Watchin’ Over Me’ (recovery, and a personal reflection on James’s own years fighting the demons of depression and substance abuse); `You and I Again’ (love song); `Stretch of the Highway’ (traveling); `Today, Today, Today’ (working); `Far Afghanistan’ (war).

    The album times in at just under 42 minutes, perhaps roughly comparable to a live set if you were hearing James at a concert. He put a great deal of effort into the collection of songs that is included here, and the sequence that they are presented, in order to provide the listening experience exactly the way he wanted it. It was worth the effort, and listening to the album from beginning to end, there is nothing discordant about how the music flows from one song to the other. Each of the songs has a specific meaning, and the overall experience is, well, it sounds just like a James Taylor album should sound! It’s great to hear him as good as ever (at age 67!).

    This album also includes a nicely produced booklet, which begins with a note from James discussing the music on the album, and includes lyrics for each song, along with photos throughout. It’s very well done and

    COMMENT regarding the various editions of this album:

    As can be seen on this Amazon page, this can be purchased as a CD, or as a CD plus DVD, or as a super-deluxe package that includes a book and other neat stuff.

    I have the CD plus DVD…

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  2. Bill Pence "CoramDeoTheBlog"
    28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Triumphal Return for JT! Reviewed by Bill Pence of, June 16, 2015
    Bill Pence “CoramDeoTheBlog” (Normal, IL United States) –

    This review is from: Before This World (MP3 Music)

    So what can I tell you about the long-awaited album? Well, it will remind you of the best songs of Taylor’s early 1970’s catalog. JT’s signature storytelling skills are matched with his signature vocals surrounded by mostly mellow mix of folk, light rock, and acoustic blues. It’s like hearing from an old friend who has been gone for a long time.
    Before This World is an intimate, largely autobiographical album of nine new Taylor songs, plus the classic Scottish folk tune “Wild Mountain Thyme”. Close friends Sting and Yo-Yo Ma guest on the album. So, put on some coffee and take a listen. Here are a few brief thoughts on each song:
    Today, Today, Today – was the first single released from the album. Taylor’s friend and collaborator Don Grolnick, a jazz and pop pianist who died in 1996, inadvertently helped inspire the song title years ago during a car trip out of Manhattan. Taylor states “One day, driving out of the city, he held up traffic at the Triborough Bridge toll booth, looking for quarters. Behind him, a cabby rolled down his window and yelled at him, ‘Today, TODAY!’ Grolnick would say that whenever he grew impatient: ‘TODAY!’”
    You and I Again – is a beautiful tender piano ballad about his wife Kim that features some wonderful accompanying strings.
    Angels of Fenway – is a tribute to his Boston Red Sox and his grandmother who was a big Red Sox fan as well. After 86 years of frustration, the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004. Unfortunately, it was against my St. Louis Cardinals, and I was at the clinching game in St. Louis as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals. Features harmony vocals from wife Kim and son Henry. Even though I’m not a Red Sox fan, I’m a baseball fan and I loved this song, which is one of my favorites on the album.
    Stretch of the Highway – this song features light horns, some effective backing vocal and has a bluesy feel to it. It is a road song. The song references Chicago, President and GMC. Taylor describes the song as “a theme I keep coming back to, the pull of home and the pull of the highway, a big part of my life, the ‘Dad Loves His Work’ theme, the tug of war between your family and going out to work. It’s a split life in a way, something every touring musician, merchant seaman, soldier, traveling salesman and oil-rig worker experiences.”
    Montana – is a beautiful song of contentment as Taylor sings of the slower life of being in his cabin high upon a mountain in Montana.
    Who can imagine the scale of the forces
    That pushed this old mountain range up in the sky?
    Tectonic creation, erosion, mutation;
    Somethin’ to pleasure God’s eye.

    Watchin’ Over Me – is an upbeat tune which features a fiddle. JT sings of his thankfulness for those who have watched over him on his path to recovery from depression and addiction. He is grateful for a second chance. He realizes the damage he has done and the debt he owes. He has learned his lesson again and that there is only way one to surrender. Although dealing with difficult subject matter, this is a celebration and one of my favorite of the new songs.
    SnowTime – has a tropic feel to it. Taylor describes the song as being about people who are economic exiles to Canada in the midst of a freezing Canadian winter who are trying to re-ignite this flame. A frozen Yankee comes across this and is transformed. Taylor states that ultimately the song is about the power of music. The guitars on the chorus reminded me of his classic “Mexico”.
    Before This World/Jolly Springtime – Taylor describes this as a spiritual agnostic song. It features beautiful cello work from Yo-Yo Ma.
    Before this world was as we know it now
    Before the land and sea were formed at all
    Before the stars were made to burn and shine
    Little love of mine, darling one
    Who can pretend to understand at all
    No one can both inside and outside be
    Who can suppose he knows the way this goes
    Little lamb, never mind
    Sadly, he sings that the world is old, will never last and that our share of joy is in this moment past.
    Jolly Springtime – contrasting the music and pessimistic lyrics of “Before This World” is this upbeat and happy song, celebrating spring in the merry month of May with effective backing vocals.
    Far Afghanistan – Taylor describes this song as an “out-of-my-experience fiction piece,” dealing with a soldier leaving for the war. This is the one song that doesn’t fit with the rest of the album, and is my least favorite of the collection.
    Wild Mountain Thyme – a beautiful cover of a classic Scottish folk song. Wife Kim and son Henry contribute harmony vocals.
    Although Taylor may not profess to be a Christian, he offers an album…

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  3. MaryBeth Vose
    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    If you love JT, you will NOT be disappointed with this …, June 16, 2015

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Before This World (MP3 Music)
    If you love JT, you will NOT be disappointed with this album. Beautiful, poetic & that amazing familiar voice. He sounds just like he did in the 70’s. How does he do it? The arrangements are delightful. The song Before This World with Sting is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. Their harmonies together are incredible. Thank you JT!!! You are a wonder.


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