Carrie Rodriguez and Chip Taylor
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Aug. 18, 2006
Seven Angels on a Bicycle (Back Porch/Train Wreck/EMI)
Unglorious Hallelujah/Red Red Rose (Back Porch/Train Wreck/EMI)
Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez have been musical Siamese twins for the last five years, so it's difficult to separate them. Yet here come solo works by both that define and redefine them as individual artists while maintaining that bond. For her part, Carrie Rodriguez's Seven Angels on a Bicycle is entrancing. It's a canny mixture of her intimate sound with Taylor, expanded in depth and breadth by her own sultry style and luxurious, ruby-red voice. From the wistful title track and melancholy "Waterbound" to the wry "I Don't Wanna Play House Anymore" and tender "Got Your Name on It," Rodriguez's singing and fiddle are matched by her confident songwriting and bolstered by partner Taylor on some tracks. Songwriting comes effortlessly to Chip Taylor ("Wild Thing"), so it's no surprise Unglorious Hallelujah spans two discs. The first twists his natural affinity for wordplay with whimsy and bite on "Thursday Night, Las Vegas Airport" and acerbic politics on "Hallelujah Boys." The second CD, Red Red Rose, is no less introspective yet plays lyrically brighter. While the album's first half name-checks songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt, Rose is more sensual. When Taylor whispers, "let's go to bed" on "One Thing I Wanna Tell You," it's a soft kiss to the crook of your neck. If tracks from both albums come off as outtakes from one of the Chip & Carrie sessions, so be it. Take these services for the gifts they are.