Album review: Maria Taylor – Something About Knowing

by Thomas Blake

The cover of Maria Taylor’s latest shows a beach and two empty deck chairs. It is oddly redolent of both Neil Young’s once-lost masterpiece On The Beach and Metronomy’s endearingly twee sun-and-showers disco-pop LP English Riviera. Whilst her previous solo work has owed more to the introversion and melancholy of the former, Something About Knowing performs an emotional volte-face, showcasing a sunnier set of songs which, in outlook if not in style, is much closer to the latter.

Taylor’s brand of introspection has been honed during her long stint as one half of dream-pop duo Azure Ray, but here, for the most part, she leaves behind the shoegazing. Witness the album’s second track, Up All Night, which takes a life-changing event – the biggest clue to the loved-up soul of the whole record – and distils its most positive aspects. It radiates wide-eyed glee and simple, unquestioning love, and musically it owes more to glam than anything else.

The euphoria is upped further on Tunnel Vision, which gallops along on hearty percussion and a wordless chanted chorus that gives way to verses that sound like Stevie Nicks at her most optimistic. We are briefly back in dream-pop territory for Sum Of Our Lives – but it’s very much a pleasant daydream – and You’ve Got A Way With The Light is a lovely country-folk song, all naivety and campfires. Most upbeat of all, perhaps, is the title track, with its little organ stabs reminiscent of mid-sixties Dylan, while This Is It even has doo-doo-doo backing vocals for that genuine West Coast soft rock sound.

Even when a song begins in relative despondency, it ends in positivity. ‘Seen a lot of broken objects in a lot of broken towns,’ Taylor sings in Broken Objects before explaining exactly how she’s managed to fix things up. And that, really, is the story of this album. It is the story of an artist who has matured, whose new-found musical confidence you can’t help but think reflects a newly attained happiness and simplicity in life. The resulting record is the most settled and accomplished of Taylor’s solo career to date.

 

Something About Knowing is released 4th November on Saddle Creek

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