Label: Saddle Creek Records
Released on: August 16th, 2011
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Lindsey Shaw
Emerging with full-folk throttle and a drum-rattling pulse, Maria Taylor's new album, Overlook, sounds mystical, promising and almost tribal in its inception. The opening track "Masterplan" is visceral; heart thumping and brilliantly paired with her delicate voice box, her listeners could easily be transfixed into expecting a cherished treasure of an album.
Electronic inserts matched with harmonized balances lend range to her work, and at times this collection can even sound like a modernized soundtrack for a Native American exploration into the west...there's some magic for sure. However, the journey doesn't necessarily hit gold.
As it plays out, Overlook seemingly blends into one song with a lazy change up of lyrics for the purpose of obligatory differentiation. While the sporadic melding of folk and electronics provides a revitalizing touch, there’s inexorable blandness that unfortunately stifles this soulful folk chick. Instrumentally, however, this album is impressive.
While much of the sounds present wind up placing you directly in the midst of nature’s crispness and a fireside embrace, like the track “Happenstance” depicting a morose re-telling of a love lost or a place missed, that warmth is thrashed with a song such as “Like It Does.” This upholds the softness cuddling the campsite, yet it’s unexceptional and nestled within that “one continuous song” curse.
It’s not all bad, of course. The tracks “Bad Idea” and “In A Bad Way” (don’t let the word in these titles mislead) lend variations of country twang infused with a female confessional to bring folklore, old west and southern pitch up to a modernized “emo” type pace.
Finally, by the album’s end, the overarching insipid tone is happily thwarted with “This Could Take a Lifetime.” Its unique melody affixed to the direct line of communication to one’s heart provides a necessary hiccup in sound.
With varying influences throughout, spanning different geographical regions and times, all captured underneath a folk rock and love song umbrella, Overlook and its brave leader had a chance. If only Maria’s voice, melodies and (lackluster) lyrics had aligned with the night’s stars, then maybe it would have emblazed a more groundbreaking trail.