Over the years, Otis Taylor (due at the Oriental Theater on Thursday, March 1, and Nissi's on Friday, March 2) has racked up accolades for shaking up the blues idiom with lyrically unique and instrumentally inventive interpretations of the rootsy form. On his latest effort, he extends his pensive creative streak by offering up a moody, acoustic-tinged disc that challenges popular ideals of what the blues should sound like. With standout vocal backing from his daughter Cassie Taylor, harp assistance by Charlie Musselwhite, nasty electric grinding by Brit axman Gary Moore and virtuosic piano work by Hiromi Uehara, Taylor churns up a muddy mix of tunes with topics ranging from songs about European Gypsies ("Black Mandolin's Boogie") and victims of Hurricane Katrina ("They Wore Blue") to dark musings about neighbors ("Looking Over Your Fence"). On Circle, Taylor, whose voice evokes the late John Lee Hooker, builds from a base of simple yet hypnotic riffs and mates the acoustic palette of bluegrass and folk with harder electric blues and psychedelic rock, forging a sound that recognizes the past while establishing its own place in the present.
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