Album review: "Overlook"
Moving across the country is never easy. So when singer-songwriter Maria Taylor, also half of the pop duo Azure Ray, moved from Los Angeles back home to Birmingham, Ala., she wrote about the conflicting emotions surrounding her move. The result was "Overlook," her fourth solo album.
The album reflects, both lyrically and musically, the internal upheaval created by Taylor's decision to uproot. At times, she still casts an eye back to the West Coast. Over the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, she opens the song "Happenstance" with the lyrics "I don't unpack my bags anymore / There's always a suitcase full on the bedroom floor." The throbbing solitary bass drum on the opening track, "Masterplan," gives way to an up-tempo beat midway through as Taylor sings, "These choices you did make / Can you take them back?"
Another track, "Matador," is similarly upbeat and bouncy, but most of the songs showcase a somber, reflective outlook. On "Bad Idea?" Taylor wonders, "What if I turn 49 with no husband in mind?" It's an acoustic number with an old-time country flair, featuring banjo, mandolin, upright bass and guitars, that Taylor recorded with her father, brother and two friends. You can picture her on the porch, guitar in hand and feet tapping to the beat, surrounded by them. So while she ponders the direction of life in her mid-30s, at least she does so from the comfort of home.
--Benjamin Opipari, Nov. 18, 2011