Author: Andy Hermann
8/15/11 | Nashville Metromix | www.metromix.com | Record Review
The buzz: It's only been two years since her last album (the excellent "LadyLuck"), but Maria Taylor's been busy. She re-teamed with her old partner Orenda Fink for the first Azure Ray album in six years, then ditched the bright lights of Los Angeles to move back to her hometown, Birmingham, Ala., where she recorded this fifth solo album with family and friends.The verdict: "I don't unpack my bags anymore," Taylor sings on "Happenstance," one of the prettiest and saddest tracks on this set: "There's always a suitcase full on the bedroom floor." Images of instability abound on "Overlook," bubbling up like the restless drums of Vulture Whale's Lester Nuby III on the tense opening track, "Masterplan." But footloose and fancy-free increasingly seems to suit Taylor, who could be restrained to a fault on past efforts but seems positively liberated here, singing cheerfully about a "glitch in her design" on the old-timey "Bad Idea?" and sounding ready to go toe-to-toe with the ladykilling title character on the Neko Case_like "Matador." It's her rawest, most compelling effort to date?greatly abetted by her Birmingham-based supporting cast, especially fiery guitarist Browan Lollar, on loan from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.Did you know? Taylor is also an accomplished drummer; singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice enlisted her to play the kit when the two toured together in 2008, and she drummed on four of this album's nine tracks.