Author: Jennifer Farmer
8/31/11 | Agitreader.com | www.agitreader.com | Record Review
Though she's traversed the country on her own and as one-half of the now-defunct Azure Ray, logging stints in the indie capital of Omaha, Nebraska, as well as Los Angles, California, in the end, Maria Taylor's Southern roots called her home. It was in Birmingham, Alabama, her hometown, that she wrote and recorded her latest solo effort, the gracefully introspective, Overlook.The album, which employs a plethora of Birmingham musicians, truly encapsulates an easygoing sound evocative of the laidback vibe found south of the Mason-Dixon. The introduction of lap steel, bass and keyboards throughout strategically breaks up rambling sections of guitar strumming, thus creating compelling, fresh soundscapes in which Taylor's delicate voice thrives. From the beautiful, breathy harmonies on "Masterplan" to the blues-infused "In A Bad Way," Taylor creates a winding narrative of life well-lived and a world well-traveled. Here, as elsewhere, her imaginative, deeply descriptive lyrics are exemplary. "Like It Does" is another sultry, bluesy tune that continues the ambling pace set up by the tranquil "Happenstance," but it unfolds quickly and gives way to the twangy pop number, "Bad Idea," which is a pleasant departure from the norm. Thanks to pacing like this, the album ebbs and flows, keeping the listener on their proverbial toes.If thrown into the sea of female singer-songwriters ranging from forces like Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon to the slew of '90s ingenues, Maria Taylor manages not only to stay afloat, but to stand out. Then again, she's a seasoned pro, and Overlook is a fine testament to her abilities.