After spending two years as a member of Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, Taylor Hollingsworth returns to the solo game with Life with a Slow Ear, an earthy album that tones down the Mystic Valley Band's lush, electric stomp. Like the Mystic Valley Band, Slow Ear takes its cues from country-rock and roots music, but it does so with a narrower scope, sticking mostly to Hollingsworth's acoustic guitar and tinny vocals. There's no critiquing Hollingsworth's talent as a guitarist -- he's a versatile pro, riffing on his unplugged instrument with all the flair he showed on his more electric-based projects -- and he's a competent lyricist to boot, with witty songs that spin tales of drug-fueled childhood shenanigans and adult lust. The guy can't sing a note to save his life, however. His vocals are alternately deadpan and squeaky-high, sometimes bordering on such cartoonish levels of helium-pitched nasality that they completely undermine his guitar playing. Hollingsworth may be a solid songwriter, but he's no vocalist, and these songs would sound infinitely stronger if he brought in someone else to sing them.
Life with a Slow Ear Review
by Andrew Leahey