Album Review: Dulcie Taylor’s “Only Worn One Time”
by Joseph Miller for High Note Reviews
When writing reviews, I usually go through a pretty set routine as I write about various people and their work. However, every now and then something happens as I research, watch and most importantly listen as I write about their work. So it goes with this singer/songwriter. It has been a long time since I have heard words and music coming out of someone like I have heard here. She is a poet, storyteller, and a gifted musician, as she seems to have fused together a contemporary folk mix along with an Appalachian sound with her dulcimer at her side.
How her notoriety has slipped by me I honestly cannot explain. I guess I don’t get out much. Her accomplishments are many including being listed by Soundstage as “Best Recordings of the Year.” Her last CD, released in 2012, climbed to number one to become Amazon’s “Top-Rated Americana Album.” Her songwriting, as beautiful as it is, also won her “First Place Best Songwriter” in 2013 from the New Times Music Awards. Oh yes, she has won a WAMMIE (Washington, DC Area Music Award) as “Best Contemporary Folk Recording” to boot. Her name is Dulcie Taylor and her new album will certainly light up the airwaves. The new CD, Only Worn One Time will be released on July 8, 2014. This is one singer/songwriter that has something very special inside her.
The album opener, “On A Rainy Day” is so well done with her riveting words and outstanding production. I love the Brazilian samba sound making it so unique and unexpected. The intro sets the mood so well, getting the listener’s attention from the start pulling you into the number, even before Dulcie sings a word. As she begins, she sings of a drought while holding back the tears. It seems here her emotions and the drought are one in the same. Even the heavy rain she is hoping for seems to be connected with her own drought. “Watching the TV for the weather report.” “I’m hoping for a downpour.” I love the line “I’m working from a simple plan.” However, her best line is so honest and real for the listener. “Telling myself to let you go is like standing in a storm telling the wind not to blow.” Dulcie is writing from way down deep, almost as if she is having a catharsis. I love the reality she is writing from where many times we never get over someone we love, we simply learn to live with the pain. This piece is a great opener and so well produced by George Nauful and Tyson Leonard, both of whom have worked with the best.
The next track comes from the album title, “Only Worn One Time.” This piece has a personal touch tied to it. Dulcie had a sister she lost when she was very young, leaving Dulcie with her wedding dress. The album title is probably a remembrance to her sister, however, the song she writes deals with an ex-wife leaving her husband, taking everything, but leaving behind her wedding dress, probably with a bit of passive aggressiveness. However, he turns the tables on his ex giving the dress away as a means of closure for himself. There was a lot of creativity in this number. This song starts out sounding almost as a funeral march from the percussion, but ends with an upbeat sound emphasizing the violins and guitars. I particularly like the harmonies here. It has a nice Appalachian sound, especially with the dulcimer in the background.
“Take A Chance” is my favorite. The melody is very smooth here. This is a number dealing with two people fearful of hurt. The intro compares the romance to “two kids circling each other on the playground” as if they are doing a dance. The word “circling” is critical here. No one is running away. Another line that caught my interest, “I’m afraid if I hold out my hand you might not take it.” There are lots of metaphors in this piece. It’s really a cool song. It has a nice laid back sultry type sound to it as well.
Finally, I have to comment on one more number, “Can’t Even Pray.” Honestly, I don’t know how they pulled this piece off, but they did it perfectly. As you listen, the dulcimer is playing throughout the number bringing out the culture of Appalachia. However, there is a little twist to this number having somewhat of an early 60’s fusion sound with the percussion. I loved it, and have to tip my hat again to George Nauful and Tyson Leonard. They did an awesome job with this number as well as the entire album. Dulcie wrote this number with Nauful. Her words are powerful and strong. Many people can relate to this piece.
I hate to stop writing, but Only Worn One Time is an album of eleven songs. With Dulcie’s work, it has a beginning, middle and end. There are no fillers in this album. All of her songs are very well done, nicely produced and pieced together like a puzzle placing all the pieces in the right place. She is certainly a very gifted writer, especially with the help of George Williams, George Nauful and Tony Recupido contributing to the album’s lyrical success. This South Carolina native has got the goods with her folk singing style fused with a contemporary feel, all while keeping the Appalachian culture alive and well. I can’t help but think Pete Seeger is smiling somewhere approving of Dulcie and her work, with the guitars unplugged of course. This is Dulcie Taylor and she has Only Worn One Time.