Saddle Creek | Maria Taylor | Reviews



Author: Kimberly Rosenbauer
04/06/2006 | | | Live Show Preview
Soon after discovering Mates Of State a few years ago, I realized that, whenever I was describing them to others, I never failed to mention they were a "husband and wife team." Usually even before explaining their music. While this factoid could easily be misconstrued as the group's trademark or gimmick, it is truly integral to their artistry: both via recording and most certainly live shows.

Preceding the duo on this particular night was Maria Taylor, touring with her own band aside from her usual project Azure Ray. She started her set like a somber folk show, slowly building her sound with guitars and steady percussion, always displaying strong maturity, confidence, and songwriting ability.

Taylor's band complimented her music completely. Vocal echoes created an overall ethereal effect, the percussion provided a heartbeat, the bass guitar (a girl!) was soothing and hypnotic, lead guitars and keys (played by her sister) provided enchanting melodies and harmonies together, and the occasional banjo added a down-home feel (Taylor is from Alabama). So clearly, she's got the dream-sequence stuff down pat. But what I really wanted to hear was for Maria to belt out some money notes! She got close during the lounge-esque "Speak Easy," but its effect might've been even more powerful and moving had she really let it out.

Still, for how quiet and lovely Taylor's band were in accompany her soft and breathy voice, they knew how to make noise, too. Taylor's lead guitarist can really jam and livens up the bunch a bit. The group's set ended with "Song Beneath the Sun," during which the whole band sang back-ups, creating a great group feeling to the tune and the whole performance.

And then it was time for Kori and Jason. Jason and Kori. The first thing you notice about the two of them is their eye contact. It is constant and meaningful and you quickly realize that this this particular gig, this songwriting bit, this performing every night deal it's all so much deeper to them. This is their love, separately and together and nothing less than their (second) child. Yes, yes, this all sounds incredibly cheesy, but absolutely true.

And hey, their music sounded amazing too. "Whiner's Bio" created an incredibly strong energy level as Jason beat at his drums and Kori played her keyboard like a true rock instrument, creating a huge presence together. In another old favorite, "Ha Ha," live harmonies were dead-on. The two were perfectly in tune with each other: vocally, emotionally, and rhythmically.

Though some of the duo's songs do have a tendency to sound similar, they really work to make each one its own through the vocals, quirky synth effects, and a perpetually high energy level. Kori often plays insane keyboard solos and her high notes are always perfectly chilling. Jason's voice is surprisingly high so that you sometimes don't realize he's the one singing.

Altogether, Mates Of State's performance was entirely effortless, making you think they would be singing and playing their hearts out in their comfy living room at home anyway if they weren't here on stage. They are who you want to be when they're playing. Hip, beautiful, energetic, loving, and so very talented.


LP / CD / MP3