Otis Taylor, ‘Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs’ (Telarc)
Sometimes pigeonholed as a bluesman, Otis Taylor can’t be defined by any single category. The follow-up to an album celebrating the African roots of the banjo, Pentatonic Wars is a sprawling folk and jazz set featuring everything from cornet to cello to djembe drums as backing for Taylor’s resilient rasp. Locking into spacious, trance-inducing grooves, haunting songs like “I’m Not Mysterious” and “Young Girl Down the Street” capture the magical weirdness embedded in everyday heartbreak and desire. And “Dagger by My Side” should be inducted into the murder ballad hall of fame.