It was 50 years ago when Kate Taylor released her first full-length LP, Sister Kate. The album reached the Billboard Top 100, propelled by her version of brother James‘ lovely lullaby “You Can Close Your Eyes”. Kate was part of a whole skew of Taylor siblings (Alex, Hugh, Livingston) whose musical careers were piggy-backed on top of the rocketing success of James. After all, she was billed as “Sister Kate”, not Kate Taylor. Her musical career lost steam after the debut album, but she still occasionally recorded and performed.
Now Kate is back again with her original producer, Peter Asher, who is best known as half of the British Invasion band Peter and Gordon (“A World Without Love”, Lady Godiva”) as well as for producing hit albums by James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and other California rock artists during the 1970s and 1980s. She’s also enlisted many of the original session players from the Sister Kate album on her new one, Why Wait!, including guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Lee Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel. Other personnel consists of her friends (The Ukeladies, which features Laurie David, Joanne Ashe, Amy Irving, and Judy Belushi) and family (her daughters Liz Witham and Aretha Taylor) and seasoned players such as Albert Lee on guitar and Scarlet Rivera on fiddle.
The song selection features several oldies, including a banjo-led rendition of the Exciters’ “Tell Him”, a hopeful take on Tommy James’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion”, and Kate even duets with Asher on the old chestnut “The Glory of Love”. She covers the obscure “I Will Follow” by brother James, her nephew Isaac’s “Beams of the Queen” and does her own composition, the title song, “Why Wait!” The rest of the material is made up of a mix of styles from the gospel of “Don’t Knock” to pop like Ed Sheehan’s “She” (here done as “He”) to Taj Mahal’s folkie “He Caught the Katy”.
Kate doesn’t seem overly ambitious here. The 71-year-old performer has come back to make some music for old fans. After all, after 50 years, why wait?