Returning to Ireland for the first time in a few years, Eric Taylor plays to an audience of long time admirers at this intimate city centre venue. His finger playing style is somewhat compromised on the night with the loss of his favourite picks ,but he soon puts such setbacks behind him to deliver a show of understated skill and sensitive touch in a 'less is more' performance that has the hushed room hanging on his every move.
Sitting in a chair and thumbing through his song book while tuning his guitar, Taylor speaks of his past in extended and elaborate storytelling, punctuated by an occasional grin and laugh while he remembers a specific moment.
His interest in the lifestyle of vagabond troubadours who never really found a settled home, colour his songs and the characters that he captures in the lyrics he writes. He sings about the free spirits and characters of the independent highway, living a code that defers to no man. His tales of whiskey nights and mornings of regret are the stuff of novels and short stories from the parts of living that only brave or crazy men inhabit.
Texas, Texas tells of adventures with Townes Van Zandt in a storm and of riding borrowed horses. The song, Strong Enough for Two references the fragile journey from Mexico City to Houston Medical Centre of a little boy and his family, hoping for a miracle cure and was the subject of a documentary in 1981.
Prison Movie is a song about a life spent behind bars and having to walk always in a line as an inmate. Cover These Bones (a Tim Grimm cover), Reno and Adios are taken from his latest release and visit such areas as Native Indian inequality, failed relationships and dangerous men who turn to a life of crime.
'Carny' is a slang term used in North America for a carnival employee, nomads on the highway of life and such is the restless spirit. He speaks of his early days in the Circus with a fondness and a longing, remembering them as the happiest of days. The song Carnival Jim & Jean captures the bond of such relationships, if not the almost claustrophobic nature of spending too much time together.
Louis Armstrong's Broken Heart tells of the great man at the twilight of his career and the sadness of seeing him used as some dressed up prize. Dean Moriarty is a look at the Beat Generation, inspired by Kerouac in aspiration and hippie ideals, heading out West in search of some illusory American Dream. A cover of Where I Lead Me by Townes Van Zandt is particularly moving and the nameless faces who toil for the simple basics of life are shown compassion and understanding in these vignettes as penned by Eric Taylor.
A Texan storyteller with a fine body of work to his name, Eric Taylor is a very accomplished guitar player and song writer and this was an absorbing night of music and tales that are long removed from the daily experience of Dublin inhabitants on a night of reflection and wistful memory.
Review by Paul McGee. Photograph by Vincent Lennon.