Reviewed by John Cheek
Five years after the release of 'The Yeshua Tree' (which was intended to be the first in an EP series), Trace Taylor returns with this, the second full-length album of the theme. Presumably, a two-year global pandemic was a factor in the delay in the LP reaching us; it may also have had an influence on the sonic and lyrical character of the follow-up. However, far from being loaded with paranoia, the second ''Tree is full of fruit that has clearly ripened and matured and now provides a sumptuous feast of tasty dishes that can, at times, be described as Christian goth. It depends on which branch is being heard. The first three tracks, the Dance Club Branch, contain prime examples of deep house that takes the listener on a journey to the dancefloor and beyond, evoking personal and spiritual horizons and bringing things long-residing in the back of your mind to the forefront of your reflections. Included among them is a Tropical Mix of the exquisite "Drops Of Crystal Love". Three more tracks form the Gothic Branch, including "All Seeing Eyes", referencing 2 Chronicles 16:9 and Deuteronomy 31:6. Those familiar with the excellent Trace Taylor back catalogue will, by now, have noticed how the artist again seems to have progressed yet further - not just in terms of quality control, as all playing and singing is still superb, if not better than ever - and clearly in terms of sonic development, if that were possible. Perhaps the production from Sony Award-winning Shaun Love has helped facilitate this new dynamic, as every element of this collection is hard to fault. Time and top-quality production obscures the realisation that most of these tracks possibly began their lives in the artist's kitchen, or began their germination in a garage of a band-mate and perhaps spent most of their time there, until final recording. Special Branch is the most-eclectic trio, including the instrumental "Touch The Air", before the finale: here, we have the Christmas Edition version of "Parousia", an awesome, mind-bending, operatic opus which in years to come will be identified as the iconic beginning of the genre known as Christian goth. From the arrangements to the vocal performance to the ambient textures contained within, "Parousia" is something as good as the best of Kate Bush - ethereal, surreal, haunting, heavenly. There's still the Bonus Branch, "Religion Pigeon", which is (just about) reminiscent of "God", from '22 Dreams', Paul Weller's own career masterpiece. Look out you rock 'n' rollers: let Trace Taylor ring the changes. Take a leaf out of her book.
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