CD Review of LadyLuck by Maria Taylor
Maria Taylor: LadyLuck
Recommended if you like
Sheryl Crow, Nina Gordon,
Aimee Mann
Label
Nettwerk
Maria Taylor: LadyLuck

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

M
aria Taylor recommends listening to her new album "in a dark room, with a candle or two with headphones, maybe in the bath, but definitely horizontal." This isn’t to say that it’s an entirely atmospheric affair, as there are some compelling rock tunes on here. But even on the rockers, there’s a chill vibe that calls out for those candles.

The former Azure Ray singer’s third solo LP shows her ready to move into primetime with a collection of emotionally and sonically arresting tracks. Taylor combines inventive beats with ringing guitars, lush orchestral arrangements and endearing vocals to create some truly compelling sounds. Taylor’s diverse voice can be soft and folky, or shine like a siren on the power pop tunes.

Much of the album is inspired by a breakup, but Taylor does a really impressive job of balancing melancholy vibes with uplifting rhythms. She says it’s also about "personal growth and the change that comes with it." If you’ve been through a breakup recently, this album will not only resonate, it could become your new best friend.

Lead single "Time Lapse Lifeline" is an early candidate for top ten singles of 2009. Taylor laments how quickly what seemed like a long-term relationship can turn on a dime and falter, but she does so with majestic melodies and a steady beat that coalesce into a cathartic sound, and that vibe runs throughout the album. "Oh, we dreamed a life / and it was just like that, and just like that, it’s gone," laments Taylor in a cathartic manner.

Maria Taylor

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe guests on the second single and album closer "Cartoons and Forever Plans," an uplifting tune that sparkles with a bit of the "Shiny Happy People" vibe, and benefits from the rich harmonies between Stipe and Taylor. "It’s Time" is a down-tempo tune about accepting that it’s time to let go, while "My Favorite Love" follows with a haunting ballad about how hard it can be to do just that. Taylor really taps into the gamut of universal emotions that surround such parting.

"100, 000 Times" brings things back up, as Taylor advocates for being able to change one’s mind, with a bright sound that seems drawn from a dreamscape. There’s a lush sonic quality here that highlights her desire for the album to be heard on headphones. "Green Butterflies" continues in that vein with an upbeat, liberating sound and lyrics about how one has to just "keep on going" past personal turmoil.

LadyLuck is an old, fashioned organic album with nary a clunker, demanding that you listen all the way through -- and making Taylor one to watch in 2009.

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