New Moon Shine

In this age of rap and thrash, the appeal of James Taylor’s intensely introspective and assertively acoustic music making gets more remote with each passing year. But after some 25 years in the record business, Taylor doesn’t have a thing in the world to prove, which gives his pristinely produced latter-day work, like his latest album, New Moon Shine, its confidence and strength. ”Copperline,” a rural boyhood memoir, was cowritten with author Reynolds Price: With its intricate guitar lines and incisive singing, it’s possibly Taylor’s most distinguished performance since 1979’s superb Flag. Another standout is ”Native Son,” a complex portrait of soldiers disoriented by war: ”They lost, we won,” he sings; ”Try to find your way back home.” Elsewhere, Taylor salutes the civil rights movement (”Shed a Little Light”), the R&B that has influenced his singing (Sam Cooke’s ”Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha”), and even his folk roots (the standard ”The Water Is Wide”) — and does it all with grace and class. B+

New Moon Shine
  • Music