Paul Taylor, the puckish 35-year-old perpetual sideman, most commonly found sitting behind the drum kit for his live-in girlfriend Amy LaVere, shakes his head and exhales with amused disbelief. "I've really been criticized pretty hard for this recording," he says.
He isn't overstating the case a bit. In fact, he seems to be taking things quite well considering that William Ruhlmann, an All Music Guide pop-music critic, whose reviews tend to show up pretty much anywhere you might want to buy music online, took offense at the recording's peripatetic nature, writing that, "Taylor, who wrote, sang, and played most of the instruments on the disc, displays a 'jack of all trades, master of none' quality, ranging from style to style as if he were trying to re-create the sounds of an eclectic record collection dating back to the 1960s and up to the '80s."
Ruhlmann is correct in one regard. Share it!, Taylor's second Makeshift records release, is all over the place with bits of eccentric indie-rock inspired by Taylor's old Bloodthirsty Lovers bandmate Dave Shouse; straight-ahead pop with a sensitive, John Waite edge; Amy LaVere-style alt-country; bossa nova beats that sound like they were sampled from a forgotten batch of Les Baxter tunes; and a raunchy electronic funk in the spirit of Laid Back's '80s groove "White Horse."
"An astrologer once told me that there would only be a small number of people who would really get my music," Taylor says, shrugging and completely satisfied. "And I'm okay with that." What he can't understand, though, is why anybody would take issue with a versatile musician doing a little stylistic wandering.
"It's a very loose collection of tunes," Taylor allows. "I guess to someone who only listens to a certain kind of music, it may sound all over the map. But I'm a product of my environment. And the idea of making a record that's a cohesive batch of songs is really slipping away, isn't it? As far as I'm concerned, this batch of songs fits together due to the subject matter."
The tunes were all recorded sometime ago during what Taylor describes as "a period of some sort of separation" without any additional details. "I'd hightailed it to Como, Mississippi, to Jimbo Mathus' [recording studio]. Jimbo was out of town, and I was sleeping on his couch. I never intended to make a record, but I was living in a studio."
Taylor says that playing almost every instrument on almost every track is mostly an old habit and one he's trying to break away from. "There's really no reason for doing it that way," he says. "When you play a lot of instruments, I guess a lot of people think you're showing off, but I started doing it this way when I was a kid just messing around 4-tracking stuff."
Where Taylor has asked for assistance he's gotten it in spades, particularly the violin tracks on "Not Still Lost in TN," which were played by Bob Furgo, Leonard Cohen's string player who also cut violin tracks for LaVere's Anchors & Anvils.
There's not much getting around the fact that Taylor's more comfortable when he's hidden behind a drum kit or a bass guitar working on someone else' project. But that, he says, is only because he doesn't get out front often enough to get comfortable with it. "I'd like to do it more often," he says.