Known for dreamy sounds with whispery vocals and eerily celestial backing instrumentals, Azure Ray has consistently delivered and expanded upon their signature style throughout their two-decade career. Remedy is the first full album in 10 years from the duo of Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, returning to spacey soundscapes and trying to explore new structures and atmospheres while keeping true to what they call their “whisper core.”
From the album’s third track, “Phantom Lover,” I found myself pulled in closer and drawn more closely toward the subtle melodies. It’s an echo-laden standout, floating with soft but passionate vocal displays. The two tracks preceding it felt more like a warm-up, but arriving here, I was reassured of Azure Ray’s reputation for control, dynamics, and ability to sweep upward and fall back down without an abrupt change to the feel of the song that they’ve exhibited in past recordings. Like a ghost, “Phantom Lover” makes itself present when it wants to, allows you to see it, materializing and vanishing gracefully.
There is a distinct melancholy to these tracks as well—a lonely vibe that is simultaneously intimate, as if Taylor and Fink know they’re singing to themselves yet still hopeful that someone is eavesdropping behind a closed door. This tone comes out notably in “Already Written,” a song that proceeds smoothly from the one before it and slips nicely into the following one. That is the power of having a controlled and consistent sound. It allows the listener to nestle into the album.
Taylor and Fink don’t pull any punches, nor do they attempt to conquer uncharted territory. They play to their strengths, and they give it their best. Remedy doesn’t have quite the range of their previous albums, such as their self-titled debut, but it offers a consistent showing of their talent for atmospheric songwriting.
Label: Flower Moon
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.