Author: Andrew Leahey
9/26/11 | Allmusic.com | www.allmusic.com/album/overlook-r2267560/review | Live Show Preview
Maria Taylor keeps things loose and casual on her fourth solo record, combining the lush, midtempo ballads that have always been her bread and butter with a handful of pop songs and folksy Americana tunes. The slower numbers are as gorgeous as ever, with tracks like "Idle Mind" floating Taylor's brittle voice over knotted layers of lap steel, flute, and acoustic guitar arpeggios. But Overlook really hits its stride whenever the tempo picks up. "Matador" and "In a Bad Way" are sexy, slinky highlights, owing more to blues-rock and vintage pop music than the '90s alt-rock scene that launched her career. "Like It Does," an organ-filled ballad for hot, lazy Southern nights, returns Taylor to her southern roots, and "Bad Idea" even finds her trying her hand at old-timey music. Recorded during a series of live sessions with a rotating lineup of backup musicians, the songs -- particularly the more rustic ones -- have a warm, homespun feel, with people trading guitar solos and piling their vocals into thick, twangy gobs of harmony. Taylor's solo work rarely sounds labored, but few of her albums have been as breezy or collaborative as Overlook, which barrels along even in its slowest moments. Forget the "solo" tag. This is a band album, and a solid one at that.