By Daniel Margolis | Published June 2021
Following up on his 2020 release The Music Stands, Memphis-based multi-instrumentalist Paul Taylor returns with It Is What It Isn’t, his third album as New Memphis Colorways. Impressively, Taylor plays everything himself on the mostly instrumental album, moving between guitar, bass, synth, omnichord, percussion and drums. His reference points here include funk, Afrobeat, jazz, blues, fusion, soul and electronic music, a blend that feels both vintage and futuristic. This doesn’t exactly feel like a band — you can tell it’s all Taylor — but given the state of the world over the last year, one can’t blame him for choosing to do everything himself, alone. And this is effective. It manages to evoke fusion giants like Return to Forever, Weather Report and Herbie Hancock and doesn’t have to strain much to get there.
Despite the puzzling title, “Hey F****r, Don’t Do That,” the track has a lot going on in terms of percussion, changes and melody. Then on the slow grinding “All The Things You Are,” Taylor chooses to sing, but through a robot-like filter, arriving at a track that sounds like a bit like Daft Punk — just without the million dollar budget.
Elsewhere, this is perhaps a bit too vague. Ironically, “ffs,tmi” is perhaps not giving us enough information. Regardless, there are interesting things happening here. One hopes that as live music opens back up Taylor can assemble a band that can replicate this odd concoction onstage.