The third solo album from Azure Ray and former Little Red Rocket member Maria Taylor comes in the wake of a move to Los Angeles, as well as a move to her new label Nettwerk. Taylor has a fantastic voice, itself enough to make ears turn to goo. Ladyluck is incredibly pristine, with emotional drive held captive by flawless halcyon arrangements. The whole thing sounds impeccable, and a little alien. Creditably, the result is generally more P.T Anderson than sub par sleeve bearing.
At times, I find the material a little hard to relate to. Songs like “Broad Daylight” and “A Chance” come across like the best pre-long haul flight music imaginable. The former’s concern with dressing room romance really underlines how over-glamorized a touring musician’s lot is. Frankly, there’s little wonderment beyond the stage. I can’t fault the immaculacy though. Guitars whirr like robotic slinkys.
There are moments that captivate too. The high points are virtuoso commercial, folk-tinged indie. “Green Butterfly” is Judee Sill-worthy and fleshed out into Oscar panorama. It pays tribute to crying kettles, the over-rehearsed, and a will to “just keep going.” “It’s Time” bleeps and shimmers like Aimee Mann’s more epic moments. There’s a touch of American Music Club’s Love Songs for Patriots to the ambience. “Orchids” cuts through perfection sweetly, while “Cartoons and Forever Plans” is a fantastic alt country closedown, akin to Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand” in Another Day in Paradise. Michael Stipe’s backing vocals meet Taylor’s with redemptive affect.
Ladyluck is an exquisite and entirely palatable record that sometimes leaves me cold. There’s clearly something worthwhile here though, and it seems foolish to discount Taylor completely. Someone will love this stuff.
Judee Sill – Complete Asylum Recordings
Aimee Mann – Bachelor No.2 or the Last Remains of the Dodo
REM – UP