5. October Road (2000)
This album literally sounds like autumn. How you can make an album sound like a season, I don’t know, but James did it.
The thing I love about this album is how the same exact feel and sound is carried throughout. The entire album is a super chill, nostalgic (which I realize is every JT album), and very warm sounding album.
I honestly think this is one of his best writing jobs, specifically musically. Every instrument is layered perfectly, and the progressions are super pleasing to the ear. The instrument choices complement James’s guitar beautifully. I would say this is James’s most clean sounding album.
My favorite song on the album is “September Grass”. The main guitar riff is one of my favorite JT riffs and the melody is instantly likeable. This song literally makes me want to go lay down in September grass.
Hidden Gem: “Whenever You’re Ready” and “On the 4th of July”
4. JT (1977)
James’s best selling studio album in the U.S. (3.5 million sales) is also one of his most full albums. A perfect mix between fun, upbeat songs and classic, emotional James Taylor songs. This one is a classic.
This one came during a bright spot in James’s life, as he was married to Carly Simon and everything was looking up. This really comes out in the album, as this is one of his more positive albums.
The biggest hit from the album is a cover of Jimmy Jones’s “Handy Man”. Again, James shows his ability to put his own thoughtful spin on an old song. To show you what I mean, listen to the original version:
And now, James’s version:
This album also contains another Taylor hit, “Your Smiling Face”, which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. I have dubbed this song the Most Likely to Make You Want to Get Up and Dance. “Your Smiling Face” will bring a smile to your face… ok, I’ll stop.
This album contains yet another Taylor hit, “Secret O’ Life”. Yes, this album is chock-full of hits. It’s no wonder it’s his best selling U.S. album. This song is a touching reminder of what life is really about: “enjoying the passage of time”.
Hidden Gem: Traffic Jam (the live version is better, though)