Saddle Creek | Maria Taylor | Reviews



Author: TJ Simon
06/10/2005 | | | Album Review
Omnipresent as a backup singer for nearly every group springing forth from the Omaha music scene, Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray) finally has issued her solo debut 11:11. In recording the disc, she apparently called in some favors, and the album is packed with guest appearances from members of Cursive, Now It's Overhead, and Bright Eyes. Throughout the disc, Taylor's breathy and intoxicating voice is pushed front and center by producer Mike Mogis. Her songs range from the synth-heavy, mid-tempo pop of Leap Year to the more straightforward guitar and piano arrangements of Song Beneath the Song, which features a guest appearance by Conor Oberst who assures the listener that "It's not a love song."

Most of the tracks on 11:11 strike a pleasant pose, thanks to Taylor's supple, floating vocals, though two of the songs are dramatically different from the rest of the material. One for the Shareholders is an inexplicably funky dance song that is worthy of Jem or Ellie Lawson and is embedded in the middle of this otherwise ethereal disc. It's not an unwelcome diversion, but it is noteworthy for its disparate nature. The other oddball selection is the old-time country ballad Speak Easy, which recalls Patsy Cline channeled through George Gershwin and proves to be the collection's highlight. It's a lovely little number that deserves to be heard, and it more than makes up for the disc's forgettable moments, such Xanax and the album's closer Hitched.

Even so, with all its guest artists, electronica flourishes, and invigorating string arrangements, 11:11 remains ultimately about the pretty voice of Maria Taylor. When judged in this light, this 10-song solo debut certainly makes the grade.


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