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Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

• Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez

A stellar sleeper. It's one of those records that is deceptive by virtue of its unassuming quality. Over three or four listens (where I kept getting distracted by life after a handful of tunes) I went from thinking that this is pretty cool to no, this is good, to wait a minute, this is great. Really great.

Chip Taylor's been around the block so many times it looks like a dog run. Already world famous to the world of songwriters for penning "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning" and famous enough in the world of gambling to be banned from Atlantic City blackjack tables, one wonders what number life this feels like to him by this time. Rest assured we will inquire after that in some form when we interview Chip and Carrie in the next issue or two.

I remember seeing an excellent story on Chip on the TV program CBS Sunday Morning a couple of years back. The interviewer was speaking with Chip's brother, acclaimed actor Jon Voight (which, naturally, makes him Angelina Jolie's uncle), about Chip's legendary prowess and addiction to the life of the gambler. To paraphrase, the question was something like "Isn't it a crying shame to see a great songwriter like your brother throw away so much of his life gambling?" And after a short but dramatic pause, Jon answered with a wry smile, "Well, I guess you've never seen him gamble. He's really, really good. Sometimes I think it's a shame that he threw so much of his life away songwriting." I still laugh out loud years later when I think of that conversation.

Is he a great singer? No, but I love his voice more every listen, that's all that matters to me. Is he a great songwriter? Goddam right he is. And such a veteran of understated great songwriting that none of the songs is saying isn't this profound, isn't this clever, mightn't this stand the test of time.

And Carrie Rodriguez? She sings beautifully, she plays superbly, and she's hotter than a smokin gun. Their symbiosis is something to behold. We'll be listening to this and their well received debut, Let's Leave This Town, a whole lot before we interview this great duo, so we'll talk more about that chemistry with the artists themselves.

It was a mellow start for me, but I've ended up really loving this record. We believe you will too, when you buy it, here. But first, check out the clips on the Listen page. • FG

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