After more than four decades as a recording artist, James Taylor finally has a No. 1 album.
Taylor’s “Before This World,” sold 97,000 albums last week, topping the Billboard 200 chart and edging out Taylor Swift’s “1989,” which sat at No. 2 on the same chart.
Although Taylor has been wildly popular and influential for decades, arriving on the scene in 1970 with his warm guitar playing and soft voice, he never had a No. 1 album until now. With “Before This World” coming 45 years after his first album made Billboard’s list, Taylor is now the artist with the second longest span between his Billboard chart debut and having the top album. Only Tony Bennett waited longer, according to Billboard — 54 years from 1957 to 2011.
Still, Taylor has hit the top-10 album charts with 11 previous albums, according to Billboard, and had 21 top-100 songs.
Taylor’s first album, “Sweet Baby James,” was recorded with Apple Records, the label of the Beatles, and he was the first artist to sign with the label.
On NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Taylor recently recalled being “clinically nervous” when his friend told him he got him an audition with Paul McCartney and George Harrison: “He told me that about an hour before it was going to happen,” Taylor said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have slept for a week if it had been a week ahead.”
Rolling Stone calls Taylor the “archetypal sensitive singer/songwriter of the Seventies” and his new work stays true to the title. Sting and Yo-Yo Ma also appear on “Before This World.” Taylor even pays tribute to his hometown Boston Red Sox in the song “Angels of Fenway.”
“The simplicity of the music matches Taylor’s nostalgic mood,” wrote David Browne in his review for Rolling Stone. “With its renewed focus on his voice and guitar — both miraculously unscarred by time and excess — ‘Before This World’ is the most direct studio record he has made in many years.”