It’s the ideal project for the architect of a sparse and hypnotic style that has come to be known as “trance blues.” Taylor has spent his career crafting songs that are wide open to interpretation — thematically as well as structurally. “I give people a starting point, and then they can take it where they want to take it,” he explains. “That’s true for the people playing my music as well as the people listening to it. That’s how art should be. A person looking at a painting should be able to interpret it in whatever way he wants. The more words you put into a song, the less freedom the listener has to decide what it means.”
The album title is inspired by a recent scientific discovery very close to Taylor’s home in Boulder, Colorado. Barely 100 yards from the edge of his property, archeologists dug up a cache of tools and other implements belonging to a civilization known as the Clovis people, who walked the earth briefly about 13,000 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared.
“I just thought it was a cool title," says Taylor. "I went back to my musical past with these songs. That’s why I called it Volume 3. There really is no Volume 1 or 2. My music only goes back about ten years, but there’s something about reaching back to an earlier time and revisiting the stories of the past from a new perspective that I find compelling.”
Helping to shape that new perspective is a crew of players who lend a variety of shades and voices to the mix. Among them is guitarist Gary Moore, a guest musician on two of Taylor’s previous recordings (Definition of a Circle in 2007 and Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs in 2009), who moves in and out of the tracks with a hard riff here, a subtle accent there, and just the right atmospherics wherever he appears. Also on hand for nine of the twelve tracks is pedal steel guitarist Chuck Campbell — a member of the Campbell Brothers, the African-American gospel group that has developed a sound commonly known as “sacred steel.” In addition, Clovis People, Vol. 3 features cornetist Ron Miles and bassist Cassie Taylor (Otis’ 22-year-old daughter).
Indeed, some instincts are eternal, whether the frame of reference is 2010, 1950 or some time before recorded history. Clovis People, Vol. 3 is in some respects a vehicle for Taylor — an archeologist of a different kind — to re-examine some of the truths he’s uncovered in his own era and preserve them for listeners in some future time.
“I went back to my musical past with these songs — all the way back to my first album,” says Taylor. “I like finding different ways to retell the old stories. They continue to mean something — to me, to the people who hear them, to the musicians who play with me — many years after I first told them.”