Sunday, January 21, 2007

Reviews:: Maria Taylor Lynn Teeter Flower

I really think it's unfortunate that mainstream movies and television have innundated people with good indie music. Not because the music shouldn't be heard, or because the band "sell-out" to get paid. I could care less about that. People have to eat and as long as I like the music they are making, it shouldn't matter who else does.

The reason I think it's bad is because it makes it easy to dismiss music or group it. For example, every review for the Shins record makes a play on the "change your life" bit, and bands that get played on music friendly TV shows (formerly the OC, now I guess Grey's Anatomy) are just lumped into a big mix. How many times have you heard "they are perfect for the OC?" Rather than add Maria Taylor to that mix, I'm going to go the complete opposite route and treat her music as more than an ITunes download or a season ending soundtrack addition (especially since I've never actually seen those shows).

Maria Taylor - one half of the popular duo Azure Ray - is back with her second solo record. Lynn Teeter Flower is out soon on Saddle Creek records and Maria has grwon a lot from her last release. Instead of hushed whispers we are grew accustomed too as a member of AR, Maria's voice is strong and grabs your attention, without losing any of the fragility. From the opening notes and vocals of A Good Start, you can't help but think of Imogean Heap (complete with some bigger guitars near the mid way point of the song). The bouncy rhythms and power chorus fit the mold nicely. Instead of consistently challenging people, Maria seems to want to invite the listener to enjoy the experience.

After the opener though, Maria settles into a softer, delicate style that I think suits her better. On A Clean Getaway, her voice shines overtop of a simple acoustic riff and some oohs and aahs. It's the type of song you might stumble upon during an open mic set, and have to stop your conversation and listen as you watch the singer pour her heart out, eyes closed. the same can be said about the rootsy verses of Small Part of me.

It would have been easy for Maria to simply get some produced tracks and let her vocals dominate. Play it safe. Instead she jumps around, experimenting with all her influences. The great thing about a solo record, is just that. It's your record. Your thoughts, your styles. Maria manages to expose her audience to her feelings and her influences without ever trying to force the issue. Smile and Wave jumps into a Strawberry Fields-ish sound, but never does it sound unsincere as she captures the whimsy the Fab Four were so good at. She uses piano ballads and pop songs (the Folds-ish Replay is especially catchy), heavier drums, electronics and synths, organs, acoustic, all without asking her beautiful voice to share the spotlight.

There are some misses, like the rap tossed in on Irish Goodbye and the odd title track outro, but I personally would rather have a solo artist swing for the fences and miss, as opposed to consistently playing it safe. Maria does that. She puts herself out there for us to judge, much the same way Emily Haines did. This record isn't one that is going to be talked about much, but when you sit down and listen, you will be quite happy you did.

MP3:: Lost Time
MP3:: Song Beneath the Song (from 11:11)

Posted at 12:26 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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