http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/63562d095b84181baf0104b0e0cd332214806792.jpg Hourglass

James Taylor


Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
May 12, 1997

With his soul-searching eyes and mellow, nurturing baritone, James Taylor was the antithesis of

feral hard-rock '70s Romeos such as Robert Plant. But make no mistake — Taylor's opus, Sweet Baby James was cranked up in more parked cars than was Led Zeppelin IV. And as young singer/songwriters from Joshua Kadison to Eddie Vedder continue to prove, earnest, introspective men can stoke the hormonal urges of music fans just as handily as their more aggressively seductive peers.

Earnest guys also tend to age better. While stars like Plant often become parodies of their more youthful selves, Taylor, who never had much of an edge to begin with, can settle comfortably — even radiantly — into middle age. Taylor's latest album, Hourglass, is a case in point. From "Line 'Em Up," the graceful opening ballad, to a beautifully understated cover of "Walking My Baby Back Home," Hourglass glows with the wistful contentment of a man who has lived fully and learned well. In "Jump Up Behind Me," Taylor sings, "I've had my fun and ... my chance to be free," his voice pouring forth, like warm cocoa, over a lilting Latin beat.

Not that Hourglass is a nostalgia trip; change and rebirth are recurring themes. In the achingly melodic "Enough to Be On Your Way," Taylor salutes old friends facing new decisions. And in the gently resolute "Another Day," he serenades a lover with dreams of the future: "Walk with me.... Just to be with you ... just to know that life goes on." Simple, tender come-ons like that never go out of style.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    Lou Reed | 1972

    Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

    More Song Stories entries »