Released in June “Before This World” is Taylor’s seventeenth studio album and represents the artist’s first album of original material since “October Road” of 2002 – for that reason alone it represents something quite interesting and I imagine partly why it was a Billboard number one album in the States.

Broadly speaking the tracks herein could be labelled as being “country”…but it’s a bit more grown up than that and I’d prefer “singer-songwriter-country-Americana” …much more easy to get a grasp of!

The tracks on the record were born out of a project in 2010 when Steve Gadd (Drums), Jimmy Johnson (Bass) and Dave O’Donnell joined Taylor to lay down some demo tracks in the barn next to his home. Lyrics came later in 2013 and recording (in the same barn converted to a studio) started in early 2014.

There’s a relaxed and yet confident feel to “Before The World” that is in keeping with Taylor’s reputation and stature as a musician. He keeps the same ” country” feel throughout, other than a bit of a foray in to folksiness with the final track “Wild Mountain Thyme” and there’s even a bit of a protest song in the form of “Far Afghanistan”.

It’s hard to believe that the lyrics and the tunes were written disparately as they just seem to gel so nicely together…but then I suppose that’s the test of a songwriter. There’s not a lot to challenge on the record and readers are probably best as seeing “Before” as just a very good record that is of its type.
Well put together, well produced and a wholly enjoyable in its hi resolution format (HighResAudio), I can see “Before” becoming a bit of of a staple at hifi shows as well as on our home system.

Recommended.

Stuart Smith

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