Saddle Creek | Azure Ray | Reviews


Hold On Love

Author: Kevin Welch
12/10/2003 | | | Album Review
Azure Ray is the collaborative effort of former Bright Eyes members, Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor.

Those unfamiliar with the former band need only understand that it joined together the nucleus of what has become one of those bands that simply snaps your head around and demands your attention all at a volume level somewhere between the sound of the wind and the Cowboy Junkies "Trinity Sessions".

On the band's third release in 3 years and first for new label, Saddle Creek, Azure Ray continues their formula of melancholy tunes, but you begin to hear what will make this band stand out from the rest. Hold On Love stands as a recipe for brilliance in its subtlety. Azure Ray is not a hit machine or a concept album band, but both are capable within the confines of Hold On Love.

With attention given to flowing chord progressions and soft, inviting music, hypnotic rhythmic patterns and stripped bare compositions, Fink & Taylor place their vocals as if completely disregarding time signature, beat and pace. It's as though we are unwitting observers of the quiet conversations that occur in their heads.

Many of our most profound revelations occur in these quiet sessions of thought and Azure Ray finds a way to get them through your speakers with the precision of a poet. Listen to the songs and you are immediately struck by how well Fink & Taylor's harmonies have the ability to transport you. Listen to the lyrics on Hold On Love and you'll understand what Kurt Cobain meant when he sang about "the comfort of being sad". At once, there is a well of emotions brought on by beautiful melodies, harmonies and structure mixed with lyrics that at one time or another have been a part of our own thoughts just never as succinct or direct as on Hold On Love.

I don't think that Hold On Love is a sad album, but in its reflection of the trials we go through just trying to make sense of our inner most thoughts be it with love or life it's easy to get sucked into a dark place. Hold On Love is the first of the band's albums that is so well put together, however, that it won't keep you there. There's just too much going on for this to be a sad album. It's more of an album that becomes a breath of fresh air through the dark understanding of feelings and emotions

Azure Ray is a compelling duo that is worth the time to explore with an album that plays in the fields amongst This Mortal Coil, Lush, The Cowboy Junkies, The Cocteau Twins, Innocence Mission, The Sundays and Dead Can Dance. Azure Ray's appeal centers in the worlds of these bands and while any of their 3 albums will make this apparent, Hold On Love is a step in the right direction for this band to achieve a lasting career.

Azure Ray shines on Hold On Love and gives us a glimpse of what they are capable of achieving. The hope is that they are aware of what they are capable of achieving. Hold On Love is on my list of the year's best albums. This is music that can really move you.

Hold On Love

Hold On Love

LP / CD / MP3