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Martin Taylor: The Valley

Martin Taylor

Britain’s Martin Taylor holds a lofty spot in the ranks of international acoustic guitarists of note, bringing to his work clarity and technical finesse as well as a bright-minded stylistic range, connecting the dots between folk, pop and jazz. His musicianship is immediate and appealing. Where he fits in the category-hungry musical universe is another, fuzzier matter-and one not made any clearer by The Valley.

It starts out in crisp, sonorous postfolk mode and takes several forks along the song path, including a stop at the Norah Jones hit, “Don’t Know Why.” Vocal cameos by noted operatic bass-baritone Bryn Terfel on “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “God Bless the Child” are too straight for comfort, a common problem when opera singers tackle pop fare-and especially given the relaxed accompaniment of Taylor’s guitar versus the standard piano backing. The late French pop singer Sacha Distel takes on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” erring on the side of pop suavity rather than jazz swagger.

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