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Sum Blues

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Album Review

Although, as a session player as well as a guitarist for the show Whose Line Is It Anyway, Linda Taylor must be able to perform all kinds of music, her first love, and that with which she feels most comfortable, is R&B, something that is very much clear on her first record with her band Threshold. But Taylor's guitar isn't the main instrument on Sum Blues, a smooth, soulful album with plenty of funky riffs and grooves and warm chords; instead, it's Angela Carole Brown's voice, which controls each piece with precision yet expresses nuance and abstract emotion. The songs, which were all completely written and arranged by Taylor, generally deal with dysfunction, either in the form of an unhealthy relationship or societal problems, thematically entwined by the idea of time — past, present, and future or a combination of the three: "The more things change/The more they stay the same," Brown croons in the title track, a sentiment also expressed in "Here Before," a rousing cut that features a wailing guitar solo from Taylor, who generally sticks to short, subtle lines and phrases, never taking anything away from the focus on the vocals, only adding to their effectiveness. The whole group, in fact, stays in the background, the bandmembers concentrating on perfecting their smooth groove rather than showing off their individual talents, in doing so revealing how very good they are indeed. Sum Blues is contemporary, relevant to 2006 both lyrically and musically, but it draws from the blues, soul, gospel, funk, and R&B of decades past. "If a change is gonna come it depends on you/Won't you lead the way?" Brown sings on the closer, "Depending on You," probably the most uplifting song on the entire album, alluding to Sam Cooke as well as countless other musicians who came before her and the other members of Threshold. It's a call to progress along with respect for the past; it's sadness and celebration, reflection and vivacity. Best of all, it's got a lot of rhythm, and a whole lot of soul.


Formed: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s

Linda Taylor, former guitarist for the comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, generally stuck to writing instrumentals, but she also found herself writing songs with a vocalist in mind and decided to act upon that. Initially the music was meant just as a side project, one that would perhaps produce some demos and pieces for other artists, but after Taylor collected the members of the band that would record her work, they all realized that they should release a complete album together. With Angela...
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Sum Blues, Threshold
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