Maria Taylor Lynn Teeter Flower

She’s one half of Azure Ray and also plays with Bright Eyes, yet Maria Taylor still found time to record her second solo album. Not only that but the instrumentation and arrangements are quite lush and beguiling. Taylor succeeds in moving beyond merely possessing a nice voice and acoustic guitar by pulling some interesting instrumentation out of her hat. Take the striking "Irish Goodbye,” where a canned electronic beat starts the proceedings but leads into a beautifully manipulated vocal sample of Taylor. While the meat of the song is just Taylor singing in her lackadaisical way over the beat, the use of electronics is a nice contrast to the rest of the album. This doesn’t mean that Taylor can’t amaze with a straightforward strum, as "Clean Getaway” is both one of the simplest and best tracks here. Accompanying Taylor is a cooing choir, whose harmonies tug at the heartstrings and provide the masterstroke of the song. Indeed, combine that with the natural melancholy regret of Taylor’s voice and that’s one downbeat classic. Though the album never truly coalesces, there are many, many fine moments that show that Taylor is becoming quite comfortable with her voice and circumstances. (Saddle Creek)