Author: Tatiana Ryckman
8/2/11 | Hearnebraska.org | www.hearnebraska.org | Feature
Something happened when Maria Taylor took The Parish's bright stage Saturday night ? the room filled, conversations came to a halt, and heads began to nod in time to music. The metamorphosis from a sparse room of wall flowers hanging on to the d_cor of the venue's periphery, to a promising show in the live music capital of the world was palpable. If the soft lilt of her voice and relaxed strumming of her guitar didn't get everyone on the performer's side, then her friendly banter must have. She playfully offered to answer someone's ringing cell phone and talked about her mother and future brother-in-laws' 13-hour drive to see the show. She described one of the opening songs as being about Birmingham, Ala., in 1982. The melodic sway felt like being a kid, "when love was laughing with a friend." Despite jokes and songs about being 35 and living like she's 21, Taylor doesn't look much older than legal, with her airy voice and long dark hair contrasted with a short, youthful dress. Taylor, who grew up in Birmingham and recently moved back (less than a mile down the road from her mother), still thinks fondly of her stint in Nebraska and the life she made there. The move was a big one ? in terms of climate, geography, and, what seems to matter most to Taylor, people. After the show, against a backdrop of band T-shirts and CDs, she says she doesn't feel the move has changed her music tonally, but things are undeniably different. "[My music] is about the people I know. And the people in Nebraska are just really good people," she says. That's not to say she doesn't have a solid web of friends in Alabama. Though it took a year to write most of the material, the new album was recorded in her Birmingham bedroom with the help of just about everyone she knows. Local friends and family came to help record the album, or just to sit and watch. To the disappointment of Taylor and her Nebraska-native pals, the tour that brought the show through Austin, Texas isn't going to be making its way to the Plains. "Next time," she says about the tour that will follow the Aug. 16 release of her upcoming fourth LP, Overlook (Saddle Creek Records), "stopping in Nebraska is a top priority."Taylor, whose been touring with Jason and the 400 Unit, has also being riding from show to show with what seems like most of her relations. Her younger sister, Kate, held down drums while brother Masey (who has also played with Bright Eyes and a.a. bondy), played bass and banjo. It seems every generation has its own famous family pop band, and I have to say I feel ripped off. Maybe if Maria Taylor and fam had been touring when I was developing my musical tastes I wouldn't have listened to so much Hanson. With an anecdote about a Xanex her mother gave her the night before ? presumably after a wild Dallas show, and a rough, groggy morning ? Taylor launched into her aptly titled song "Xanex." But contrary to the drug's effect, the room's mood switched from light and romantic in her attractively melancholy way, to high energy and unmistakably rock. The sea of heads started bobbing ? most of the crowd with Lone Stars in their hands. The set, a satisfying mix of old and new material, and a blend of impressive music and just plain adorable musicians, came to a close with "Song Under a Song," from Taylor's album 11:11. The night closed with heart-wrenching harmonies singing, "It's not a love / It's not a love / It's not a love song." And I am a sucker for a song in which the lyrics remind the listener: We are all in denial. But if I take it at face value, that it's not a love song, I can't wait for the new album to come out in August, so maybe I can find out what is.