Album Reviews

Maria Taylor – Overlook

on August 11, 2011, 7:57am
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Saddle Creek veteran artist Maria Taylor strives for a lush and rootsy sound on her fourth full-length album, Overlook, but lands somewhere in Lilith Fair territory. A member of Azure Ray and Now It’s Overhead, in addition to being an occasional Bright Eyes collaborator, Taylor has shown her staying power in the Saddle Creek family for several years. However, her solo efforts are often lackluster, coming up just short of usual Azure Ray wonder and Oberst-collaborative gold. Sadly, Overlook seems perfectly fit for what would appear if a listener typed “sad chick music” into the Pandora search field. Taylor’s whispery, timid voice sounds restrained on nearly every track. Coupled with repetitive lyrics and monotonous rhythms, Overlook is a yawn-inducing piece.

Overlook was born out of a yearlong songwriting drought and break from Azure Ray, which is apparent. Songs that aren’t monotonous feel short and unfinished, such as “Happenstance” and closer “Along for the Ride”. “Matador” is the strongest point on the album, as it veers into a wild tangle of instruments at its apex, using vocal echoes, wild guitars, and innovative percussion. But the reprieve of unique material is short-lived, as the remainder of Overlook offers lovesick laments and breakup diary entries paired with bedroom acoustics.

“Bad Idea?” follows the regrets and worries of a single woman in the modern age as Taylor croons, “What if I turn 59 with no child of mine, well I guess there’s just a glitch in my design.” That lyric alone is enough to make everyone short of the adoring fans cringe.

On “This Could Take a Lifetime”, Taylor whines, “I’ve been waitin’ at the Greyhound station, I’ve been tryin’ to find someone like you, but I never do.” The TV drama market could put this album to great use, as Overlook would serve as perfect backing for a scene of scripted unrequited love or some cheesy-ethereal medical drama love. Lesson learned? Taylor should stick to her Azure Ray roots.

3 comments

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Nee
March 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Awful review this, I cannot help but feel that this reviewer knocked this up on evening after listening to the album on scan as her editor was on at her for late submission! Not a very eloquent or fair review. I think Maria still has a lot to offer both lyrically and musically. As for the accusation that her voice is timid, that’s how she sings and has done so for years. Poor review Liz, could do better.

Nizzlepie
August 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Eh, Azure Ray lyrics are just as ‘breakup diary entries’ as the songs on this one.

I’ve been an AR/Taylor fan since the beginning, and I think this is easily the best since her debut. One star my ass.

Miceatcheese
August 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I’m with you on that one Nizzle. Long time Azure Ray fan and Maria Fan. This album is very nice. Some songs are a little slow but overall, great stuff. I hope to continue to hear more from her. 4 stars would be my rating.

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