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In the Next Life

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Album Review

The gently reflective tone that imbued Maria Taylor's 2013 LP, Something About Knowing, further permeates her sixth solo effort, In the Next Life. Having left her longtime home in the Saddle Creek stable, the erstwhile Azure Ray songstress strikes out on her own to release this pleasantly sun-dappled set on her Flower Moon imprint. A panoply of life experience flows across Taylor's canvas of bittersweet indie pop, changing color in subtle moves from atmospheric piano ballads like "Home" to moodier blue highway fare like "A Good Life." For the most part, the tempo trickles along at a mellow clip, spiking a bit on the slinky surf-twang of "Free Song" and slowing down on the hushed Joshua Radin-assisted "It Will Find Me," but otherwise hanging out in her chosen midtempo sweet spot. In addition to guest vocals by Radin, Taylor is joined by co-producer Nik Freitas and collaborators Louis Schefano (Remy Zero), Morgan Nadler (Whispertown), and Conor Oberst, among others. "If Only," her buoyant indie folk duet with Oberst, is another highlight with a warm, uplifting feel and a spirited string arrangement. The breezy romantic '50s pop of "Flower Moon" is another standout, with a clever but spacious arrangement. As a whole, In the Next Life is pretty easy on the ears and largely void of any rough edges. Over time, Taylor's music has become increasingly gentler and more introspective, and this supremely laid-back set would risk banality if she didn't sound so confident and settled. While it may not contain any real surprises, there's plenty of nuance and craft here and her beguiling voice is certainly worth spending some time with.

Customer Reviews

Another great album from Maria

Beautiful album, easy on the ears. ITNL has plenty of heartfelt lyrics, too. I saw her perform Pretty Scars a couple of times already and it chokes me up every time. Worth the purchase to support great art!

Biography

Born: May 21, 1976 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Maria Taylor brought her warm, casual vocals to several projects -- most notably Azure Ray, a dreamy pop duo that featured Taylor and longtime partner Orenda Fink -- before launching her own career as a solo singer/songwriter. Born in 1976 in Birmingham, Alabama, she got her start at age 15 as part of the Birmingham duo Little Red Rocket, a pop/rock group that garnered comparisons to Belly and Veruca Salt. After releasing 1997's Who Did You Pay and 2000's It's in the Sound as part of the Geffen Records...
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In the Next Life, Maria Taylor
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