Azure Ray Hold on Love

After signing with Saddle Creek and performing/touring with Moby last year, the Southern-gothic duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, better known as Azure Ray (and former members of Bright Eyes), have released their third album, in what has been a whirlwind of releases over the past two years. Produced by Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers main man Eric Bachmann, Hold on Love mixes lovelorn orchestral ballads and warm, gentle atmospherics. With a constant shift between simple arrangements composed on piano and strings, and hints of soft electronic beats (courtesy of Clark Baechle of the Faint), Fink and Taylor certainly have enough substance to escort their placid vocal style. The melancholic aura that travels through the air steadily is comparable to acts like Red House Painters and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, with the title track and "Across the Ocean” pushing the gloom to heightened senses of beauty. Where Azure Ray excel most though is on "If You Fall,” which delivers an unexpected pop element that shows the potential to lift their spirits could be truly exciting. If they could lose the trip-hop feel that conflicts with the folk-based song structures, they’d be on to something, but until then, the watery sadness remains unbelievable. (Saddle Creek)