Pam Taylor Band: Hot Mess Review

Channeling the power of countless female blues vocalists who came before her, Pam Taylor achieves a sense of might and determination through her voice alone that, when coupled with the professional skill of her band, makes this group’s debut anything but a hot mess. Instead, the Pam Taylor Band steps onto the blues scene with a fistful of tracks that are played and produced well. Featuring Pam’s father Mike Taylor on saxophone, Kyle Phillips on lead guitar, Rusty Gilreath on bass, L.A. Freeman on drums, and Pam leading them all with her microphone and guitar, this family-born band from South Carolina offers Hot Mess as a traditional take on the blues that hints of their artistic potential.

The strongest takeaway from the album is by far Pam Taylor’s vocals. In addition to logging time as the band’s default songwriter, Pam Taylor lends a growling edge to the lyrics she pens to make them pop out of the record. This type of “growl” is nothing revolutionary (from Ma Rainey to Etta James, whom the group covers with “I’d Rather Go Blind,” the style is about as real-deal blues as a twelve-bar chord progression), but is still nice to listen to as a callback to older blues styles. Pam Taylor demonstrates her vocal talents right out of the gate with “Smile Again,” a track that balances guitar and saxophone solos over a dependable bass beat. “Hot Mess” and “All the Same to Me” are similarly notable for the Taylor team’s skills on vocals and sax: with these two features steering the band toward a jazzier side of the blues, the overall sound achieves an energy that likely translates well in live settings.

Considering the driving force Hot Mess seeks to contain, the Pam Taylor Band is a group that is likely best experienced live at this stage in their career. The record is musically and stylistically good, but it simply doesn’t allow the band members the kind of space they need to let their music take off. From its nod to past blues legends to its dynamic vocal qualities, Hot Mess comes across as a solid recording debut for this fledging band.

The Review: 7/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Smile Again
– Hot Mess
– All the Same to Me
– I’d Rather Go Blind

The Big Hit

– Hot Mess

Review by Meghan Roos

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