The title of veteran UK jazz/soul singer Katriotna Taylor’s highly awaiting, lushly scintillating and stylistically eclectic first album in a dozen years isn’t just a clever play on words. In a world where so many want to overlook or dismiss disabilities, Blind Passion offers a refreshing ode to some of our most cherished sightless singers – Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano, Diane Schuur, Ray Charles – by a multi-talented artist who has herself been legally blind since age seven.
She pays homage to these legends in a multitude of creative ways, honoring Schuur with a speedy paced, scat filled romp (featuring a clever vocal-sax conversation with Vasilis Xenopoulous), Charles via a restrained crystalline take on “A Song For You,” a punchy, Brazilian stroll through “Master Blaster” and an elegant, tenderly jazzy take on “My Cherie Amour” (for Wonder), and sultry, soulful and bluesy spins on “Light My Fire” and Jools Holland’s whimsical “As You See Me Now” for Feliciano.
Those heartfelt and impactful re-imaginings are worth the price of admission, but are only half the joy here, as Taylor – the daughter of British tennis great Roger Taylor who began her recording career with the 2003 EP Olliewood – showcases her own brilliant and insightful songwriting and broad vocal range on a five originals whose intimate content speaks to some personal highs and lows since her last recording – most importantly, giving birth to two children and overcoming two bouts of breast cancer.
When Taylor sings about arrows aiming at her heart on the opening number “Things Have Changed,” she’s singing about love saving the day but we can sense a double entendre about physical and emotional survival and overcoming obstacles. Other original gems include the breezy, samba tinged “In This Place” (a song about longing to be set free) and about the intense (but ultimately worth it!) price we sometimes pay for taking risks “In the Name Of Love.”
Blind Passion is a brilliant comeback on a multitude of levels for a singer who conveys the vulnerability and honesty of living a life full of challenges and speaking wisdom from the sunny side of those high mountains.