Music Review: Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez’s ‘Red Dog Tracks’

Red Dog Tracks by Taylor and Rodriguez

High on my short list of artists who are so good that I can’t believe they’re not world famous are Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez, who teamed up to make a handful of classic albums beginning in 2002.

Actually, Taylor is not entirely unknown—he wrote a pair of 1960s classics, “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning”—and the couple did build a cult following with their work together. Also, Rodriguez has since released well-regarded solo albums, as has Taylor.

But, really, these two ought to be household names. Their distinctive, intimate vocals are such a perfect match that you’ll be surprised to learn they’re not a couple offstage; Rodriguez’s fiddle playing and seductive Texas drawl are simply wonderful; and Taylor’s emotional story songs are charming, moving, and memorable.

Let’s Leave This Town, their 2002 debut, is loaded with indelible material, including the title cut and “Sweet Tequila Blues.” So is The Trouble with Humans, their 2003 second album, which features “Don’t Speak in English” and “Dirty Little Texas Story.” And then there’s their third and final full-length studio recording, 2005’s Red Dog Tracks, which includes the bluesy “Big Moon Shining,” a wonderful cover of Hank Williams’s “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love with You” and “Keep Your Hat on Jenny,” which weds a lilting melody to a subtle, clever Taylor lyric.

So it’s good news that this last CD, which has been out of print for several years, is back in a remastered 2015 edition, and with three bonus tracks: “Willow Garden,” an old Appalachian murder ballad, beautifully sung by Rodriguez; “Unglorious Hallelujah,” which features a sensitive vocal by Taylor; and a fine alternative reading of the moody title cut.

And there’s more good news: Taylor and Rodriguez are reuniting for a 2016 concert tour. Don’t miss this second chance to catch up with one of the best duos in country/folk.

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