Cassie Taylor – Out of My Mind (2013)

Cassie Taylor brings the same sort of hard-bitten focus on truth telling, and the same frisky sense of experimentation, that’s surrounded her father Otis’ work. That makes sense, since she’s been right there with him, playing bass and singing with Otis Taylor for the last decade, both in the studio and on stage.

In this way, the dark themes, tough musical swagger, unbowed optimism and eye-popping multi-instrumental prowess that shoots through her adventurous sophomore release Out of My Mind (Yellow Dog Records) should come as little surprise. The young Taylor plays her trusty bass, as well as organ, theremin and piano over this 13-song journey, though its her sultry voice — often settling into a whispery knowingness — that holds everything together on this blues-informed but never blues-shackled project.

She begins with a two-part examination of a woman’s fate after having chosen to kill her spouse, and endure the hardships of a life sentence in a brutal correctional facility, rather than accept another day of abuse. “Ol’ Mama Dean” then leads into minor-key thoughts on the plight of the homeless (“Spare Some Love”) and later yields to the worries of mortality (“Gone and Dead”) and temptation outside of a relationship (the piano-driven “Again”). Yet Taylor, and this is what makes her father’s music so special too, always finds the seeds of hope on even the rockiest grounds of despair.

The lilting acoustic number “Lay Your Heard on My Pillow” celebrates her parents’ undying love, while “That’s My Man” luxuriates in the comforts of her own marriage. She pokes fun at her then-boyfriend’s reticence to commit on “No Ring Blues,” and lets her hair down for a romp through second-line joys of “New Orleans.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.