Lewis Taylor – Stoned Part II

Frustrating fourth from once-visionary British white soulster, again released on his own label

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Veteran of a couple of albums which, despite rabid acclaim, Island failed to sell to anyone, Lewis Taylor is clearly having some kind of art-versuscommerce crisis. Unfortunately, in attempting to second-guess an imaginary apogee of marketable smooth soul, he’s forgotten his USP: a ravishingly lush and wildly sophisticated prog/soul hybrid that owes as much to Surf’s Up as Let’s Get It On, as epitomised by early songs such as “Lewis III”. He’s singing as beautifully as ever, but there’s little bite or vision left among the perky, preset funk. The epic opening of “Positively Beautiful 2” captivates until you realise it sounds like something Trevor Horn might have dreamt up for Seal 10 years ago, and too many songs have been remade/remodelled from Taylor’s last own-label release. There are glimpses of his unique talent here, but no more. He’s got nothing to lose?he should let rip or, at least, unearth some of the extraordinary material he scrapped between the recording of the two Island albums.

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