Folksingers Chip Taylor and John Prine can both deliver more charm per minute of music than just about any artist I know. So don’t be put off by the fact that this limited-edition EP—a vinyl-only Record Store Day special called Sixteen Angels Dancing ‘Cross the Moon—contains just three songs and clocks in at a mere 15:27, with more than a third of that time devoted to spoken introductions by Taylor. Those intros convey his warmth, humility, and humor, and the duets that follow them are all worth hearing.
The title track, which is guaranteed to bring a smile, resulted after a Swedish singer had hits with Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and Taylor’s “Angel of the Morning.” The two songwriters, who are old friends, decided to write a third angel song together and came up with the sweet, playful “Sixteen Angels Dancing ’Cross the Moon.” (“Hey Chip, what do you think that [title] means?” asks Prine between verses. “You know, John, I’m not sure,” answers Taylor. “But we’re songwriters. We don’t have to know, now do we?”)
Also here are two old but previously unreleased Taylor duets: one from 1997 with Texas-based folksinger Guy Clark and one from 2002 with Mekons co-founder Jon Langford, the latter featuring a verse sung by Carrie Rodriguez. (At the time, Taylor was touring with Rodriguez in support of Let’s Leave This Town, their first joint release.) Both are likable, but the title track seems to me to be the number-one reason to seek out Sixteen Angels, which I’m told should be available at least through Christmastime.