Hah, y’all, sincerely. Tiny Cat Pants is surely the place for reviews of music everyone else has heard before. I can’t help it, though, you know. I hear something and it moves me and I want you to hear it, too.
So, anyway, yes, Koko Taylor has the kind of voice that, if she were to lean out her back door in Chicago and holler, “Aunt B., dinner’s ready.” I would have heard her clear out to Coal City. It’s got a carrying rumble like distant thunder. And it’s got the promise of power behind it, so I would have damn straight stopped what I was doing and hightailed it north to eat.
In this song, the thing I like about her delivery is how at ease her delivery is. Listen to the way that the saxophone is keeping the base line moving ingeniously. Someone who knows more about music could explain how this works, but if I had to make my guess, I’d say that it seems like the song is based in four beats, but the sax part is taking place over six beats. So, every twelve beats, you have the sax part and the rest of the song resolving together, but for two repetitions of the sax part, you cannot help but pay attention to it. It seems out of sync. Do those first two bop ba notes start the phrase or finish it off?
And once you’ve asked that question, part of you is hurrying ahead to hear it again, just so you can make up your mind.
The sax is fairly smooth and the guitar is in sharp contrast to that. The guitar plinks in where necessary, like a sharp needle sewing together the insistant urge of the saxophone with Taylor’s laid-back delivery.
Ha, I know nothing about Taylor’s voice sounds laid back when you first hear it. But that’s why it behooves you to listen carefully to how she’s singing this song. When she hits “call” in “They call me the voodoo woman,” she delivers it like she’s got some gravel in her voice. But listen to the words around that, when a lesser singer might also be tempted to growl at the end of a phrase, too, or to hit “all” with all she’s got, Taylor doesn’t.
She’s not trying too hard. She’s just showing you all the things she can do with her voice. Words end before or after beats. Their delivery is based more on the poetry of the lyrics than on the demands of the melody.
And doesn’t it make you want to dance? To me, the way those three lines weave around each other is almost irresistable. You’ve got the repetative saxophone, which to me, suggests a way to move your feet–something simple that you can do without thinking too carefully about it and something that moves you close to someone else. The guitar seems like an invitation to throw a hip out here or a head toss there. And Taylor’s voice… well, doesn’t that make you want to just grab a hold of the person dancing across from you and make her or him all kinds of promises about just how powerful you are?