Azure Ray: Drawing Down the Moon
Author: Andrew Leahey
Drawing Down the Moon may be Azure Ray’s first album in seven years, but bandmates Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink kept themselves more than busy during their time apart. Taylor released three full-length solo albums and collaborated with Saddle Creek cohort Andy LeMaster on an EP, while Fink issued two solo discs and formed two different bands, both of whom released records of their own. The projects all had different names, but none of them differed too much from Azure Ray’s wistful acoustic pop, which makes this “reunion album” sound like the hiatus never happened. Taylor and Fink don’t leave their wheelhouse many times on Drawing Down the Moon, preferring instead to continue reinterpreting the Lilith Fair sound for an indie audience, with earthy harmonies that chirp like the Indigo Girls and fairy tale lyrics that reference icy mists, country roads, and broken hearts. The emphasis, of course, is on the broken heart bit, but the girls dress up their melancholia with string arrangements and a general sense of ethereality. Part of the album’s appeal is a result of producer Eric Bachmann, who knows how to frame his subjects in the most flattering way possible. When Maria Taylor asks, “If I could give this a shot, would you?” during “On and On Again,” it’s almost a rhetorical question, because Drawing Down the Moon is meant to be alluring in spite of its teary-eyed content. But Bachmann’s contributions play a back-seat role to those by Taylor and Fink, who sound as convincing after a seven-year break as they did during Azure Ray’s heyday.