Azure Ray: November
Author: Peter J. D'Angelo
Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor are Azure Ray, and November is easily their most impressive work. On their Saddle Creek Records debut, the two acoustic guitar-playing singer/songwriters capture unsettling emotions with unbelievable melodies and words which are as deeply intense as critically acclaimed troubadours Leonard Cohen or Townes Van Zant. The girls have previously held spots in Japancakes, Bright Eyes, and Now It's Overhead (NIO singer Andy Lemaster produced the disc) but the Athens, GA, duo seems to have finally found the perfect outlet for their ideas. The disc includes six tracks carried out with extreme delicacy that is instantly effective without bothering to go over the top. All of the tracks are drenched in sinisterly floating noises to create a slightly somber mood, but the impressive guitar work and the pair's truly amazing vocals are what result in the record's true payoff. They touch on pain and despair, but they do it with such grace and beauty that it is difficult to discredit even a moment of their performance. Azure Ray has no problem baring their souls, and hearing their downtrodden plight is somehow uplifting or at the very least comforting in its restrained but pained outlook. November is a truly beautiful record of sorrow and heartbreak, but somehow it is still a joy to listen to time and time again.