Album Reviews


Album Reviews

Harvest Rock Syndicate July/August 1991

4 1/2 points out of 5
by Bruce A. Brown

So tell me something-does this guy Terry Taylor ever sleep? Sure, it's been four years since the last Da album (Darn Floor-Big Bite), but the guy hasn't exactly been taking an extended vacation. Since '87, Taylor hs spearheaded two Swirling Eddies projects, released another Rap'sures album, produced two albums for Jacob's Trouble and two for Scatterd few, supervised the reissue of vintage Daniel Amos live material (plug!), packaged an ersatz 'best of' disc (under the name of dr. Edward Daniel Taylor) and probably a dozen other things I forgot to mention. But when Brainstom (formerly Broken) came calling, Taylor had his choice-he could do a solo record, another Eddies disc, anything he liked. It seemed the time was right for a new Da album. How fortunate we are Taylor made that derision.

Kalhoun revisits several lyrical strands that Taylor has woven through his music over the years, even as far back as the first Daniel Amos album. Previously, in "Big Time, Big Deal' and "I Didn't Build It For Me,' Taylor cast a withering gaze at the hypocritical actions of some of the prominent representatives of modem American evangelical Christianity. Here, Terry directs that examination inward on "Big, Warm, Sweet, Interior Glowing." Songs such as "Real Girls" and "Rodeo Drive," examined the facade most of us erect in order to show less of our true selves; "Virgin Falls" and "Tracking The Amorous Man" explore the duality of our nature in much the same way. Through "Prayer Wheel" and "Gate of the World," Taylor reminds us that, due to the expanding "global village," electronically if not organically, we're more closely linked to each other than ever before. The title track, 'Father Explains" and "Gloryhound" explore various facets of our current administration's fascination with a "new world order;" indeed, "Father Explains" may be the most political song Terry Taylor has ever penned.

On a more intimate level, "It you Want To" is certainly one of Taylor's most endearing love songs, while "Note To Anaa" is a sad reminder that our human efforts to save someone are doomed to fail; only Christ can accomplish that. "I Will Return" takes the tale of "Mall All Over The World" to its apocalyptic conclusions. But Taylor is not merely "recycling" old storylines as a songwriting device; his lyrical growth and maturity are in evidence throughout the album.

Musically, Kalhoun displays a fascinating juxtaposition of sounds; it's Da "unplugged," yet simultaneously offering.some of the crunchiest guitar sounds since "Alarma!" or "I Love You #19." As the album fades in on Ed McTaggart's brushes sweeping across his snare drum, you know you're in for a different Da. "Big, Warm, Sweet, Interior Glowing" is built, as are many of the tunes, around Taylor's acoustic rhythm guitar.

"Kalhoun" blisters with Greg Flesch's electric guitar work, while "I Will Return" is driven by accordion and ethereal vocals. The rhythmic cello part on "Tracking The Amorous Man" recalls E.L.O., and "Gloryhound" is buoyed by steel guitar licks. But these musical quirks never seem like tricks, simply minor embellishments. Kalhoun was cut live in the studio for the most part and the organic feel of four musicians playing as one is quite sublime.

When you call anything an artist's "best" that automatically raises the public's expectations. But Kalhoun certainly contains several of the best songs Terry Taylor has ever written, and musically, it is one of the bands most satisfying performances.

Notebored July-August 1991 Vol V, No 1

by Fred Clark

A while back I wasn in a Christian "Book Store" where they had Daniel Amos albums in the "A" rack - for "Amos, though it were someone's last name. This was amusing (I checked to see if Daniel Band was under "B") but not surprising. People rarely recognize prophets when they see them.

Kalhoun is the first new "Daniel Amos" material in several years. The choice of the name is not incidental. Under the moniker of Daniel Amos (or DA/Da/da) the band has a propgetic edge. Mixing the apocolyptic imagery of Daniel with Amos' concern for justice, they sounded a four album-alarm for the sleeping church. The Alarma! Chronicles were followed by 1987's Darn Floor, Big Bite, on which they reminded Christians that, although we may think we have all the answers, our wisdom is like the inadequate gestures of a gorilla.

Kalhoun sounds the alarm yet again, condemning, convicting, and calling for repentance. It is an album full of the kinds of songs which could get da kicked out of their native Orange County and could force them to find yet another new record label. (The band is, for now, on Brainstorm Artists (formerly Broken), distributed by Word.)

Kalhoun features da as a foursome: Terry Taylor, Greg Flesch on guitar, bassist Tim Chandler, and drummer Ed McTaggart (back from vacation, one assumes). Musically, the band has never been stronger. There are echoes of Doppelganger, such as "Virgin Falls" and the "Memory Lane"ish "Prayer Wheel." But, then there are songs like "Anna" in which sparse details create an impressionist memory accompanied by a relentless rhythm and mournful cello. Styles range from the Stones-like riff on "Gloryhound," to the rambling accordion of "I Will Return."

The pulsing, open-road rhythm of "Big, Warm, Sweet, Interior Glowing" accompanies a surgically precise attack of the self-righteous, Spiritually Correct crowd. (They're so vain, they'll never think this song is about them.) "Glowing," like much of the album, is infused with a sense of humor which keeps it from pontificating like those it condemns.

The title track tells the story of the re-building of Babel, as the nation devotes itself to "Kalhoun." The fact that no one knows what "Kalhoun" means does not lesson anyone's commitment to it. Taylor seems to be saying that the anti-Christs are here, and they're already doing a number on us.

"If You Want To" presents a challenge of another kind. "I'll block the door/or step aside/we'll change the world/if you want to." The diide invitation is both comforting and disturbing. We see our own resurrection, but it is distant. Changing the world can be easy, yet the world remains unchanged.

The prophetic message is never more direct than it gets in "Gloryhound": "You're sliding down a flagpole to the devil in hell." At the same time, when there is such enthusiastic support for killing in the name of godandcountry, it takes real courage to sing, "bombs and money and a deathwish/I don't need your inspiration..." Taking this stand is not going to make da very popular, but of course, there is no such thing as a popular prophet. It is unlikely that they will be asked to open for Ollie North at this year's Fishnet.

The horror of the Gulf War, and every war, is addressed directly in "Father Explains." This is Taylor at his angriest, crying out against the deadly "steel rain" of a bombing attack and the suffering of innocent victims. "Eight brothers and sisters/but three of them died/Caught out in the marketplace/with nowhere to hide/The boy thinks God may be over on the devil's side/Where the line in the sand has been drawn." The passon of Taylor's voice and Flesch's guitar are contrasted with the stark understatement of the refrain, "'It's our lot in life, son,' the father Explains." I'm reminded of the relief worker in a refugee camp who warned the homeless Kurds not to expect continued relief, "In the end the West will do what is comfortable, not what is just."

Taylor likes to conclude his albums in the way of the Book of Daniel ends -- with a hopeful vision for the future (e.g. "Sanctuary," "Beautiful One," "Shape of Air"). "The Gate of the World" serves as the benefiction for Kalhoun, but the hope it offers is tenuous, conditional. It recalls again the divine intervention and the human responsibility, "We'll change the world... if you want to."

Cross Rhyhtms December 1, 1991

by Tony Cummings

da, otherwise known as DA, Daniel Amos, The Swirling Eddies (look stop there, this could go on for column inches, Ed) were radically outside the mainstream of pop rock when most alternative bands were in corduroy shorts. So it is only fitting there should be such a compelling return to creative form as this new set from Terry Taylor and his anarchic bunch of boundary-pushers. Settling this time for a nice line in indie guitar rock in which to set those lyrics which explode in surreal bursts of enigmatic imagery. We'll be examining them in the next year to unravel. . . Who are these two TV heroes with feet of clay sung about in "Virgin Falls"? Is "Kalhoun" an attack on Christian jargon or an attack on evangelical empire building? Whatever the enigmas, Mr Taylor is still a great talent and 'Kalhoun' the kind of album you want to play three years on.

Reviews provided thanks to the writers, magazines and newspapers listed as well as fans that have helped us collect them - Richard Towry