In The Pocket

James Taylor

Warner Brothers, 1976

http://jamestaylor.com

REVIEW BY: Tommy Johnson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/16/2003

You can always count on James Taylor. Even in awful music years such as 1988, Taylor managed to put out music that still sounds timeless. No bombastic drum machines, no over-the-top productions; James Taylor has always been a tasteful and trustworthy man.

Released in the spring 1976, In The Pocket captured a comfortable James Taylor. At this point of his career, he had nothing left to prove -- he simply was the singer/songwriter of the 70s. He didn't need to renew himself; people would buy his music anyway. So why change a winning concept?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first song off the album, "Shower The People," is the album's highlight. It features the warm harmonies of James and Carly Simon; and they blend perfectly together (the pair were also married at the time). The excellent rhythm section, consisting of Russ Kunkel on drums and Lee Sklar on bass, gives the song the extra energy it needs.

The next track, "A Junkie's Lament," is almost as good as the opener. This time, Taylor is joined by Art Garfunkel, who obviously gives the song a "Simon and Garfunkel" feel. My only complaint is that the song has a "la-la" part. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It should be a law against "la-la-ing" on a song. If you can't come up with proper lyrics, just put an end to the song instead of turning it into a cheesy campfire tune. However, if anyone should get away with it, it's James Taylor…

The rest of the album sounds much like the way it started, but not quite as good. Taylor flirts around with r&b and soul, but that falls pretty flat. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing new -- just the man and his guitar. It's not very exciting, but it's the way Taylor is supposed to sound. One of the reasons James has become the beloved artist he is, is because of the fact that he has stayed true to his original sound.

In The Pocket is absolutely not the best album the man has done, and it's not the worst. It's somewhere in the easily forgotten middle section. It wasn't a hit when it was originally released, and in a way, it's quite understandable. Rolling Stone magazine wrote the following about In The Pocket back in 1976: "…he has failed to write a single memorable melody, and on a record that is more that 40 minutes long, the result is inevitable -- boredom."

That's a bit harsh, but I'm sure James got over it when his follow-up album JT became one of his most successful albums.

Rating: B-

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