Becoming a parent is a beautiful thing, of that there is little doubt. If there’s anything to detract from that, it’s having to fix a smile when a new mother or father begin talking about their child. Personally, I’ve always found my interest wanes after roughly three quarters of an hour. I’ve found myself in the past, having someone’s little one on my knee, watching a video of them on their TV, whilst also being shown photographs of the very same child. That day I realised that nobody is as interested in your child as you are.
Which is something Maria Taylor sails dangerously close to. But not quite. Briefly, as well as being one half of dream pop outfit Azure Ray, she has also released 4 solo albums and worked with Michael Stipe, Conor Oberst and Moby, but this is her first release since becoming a mother and it is apparent, as there are so many references to it, both opaque and literal, and perhaps rightly so, as there is nothing bigger in life after all, than becoming a parent and it’s not something to pooh pooh, but still.
While it opens beautifully, genuinely beautifully, with one of the tracks of the year in ‘Folksong Melody’ it then goes straight into ‘Up All Night’, which appears to be about getting the news she was to be a mother and all the feelings that engenders and it’s a decent pop stomp. Eighties inflected ‘Tunnel Vision’, while not overtly about becoming a mother, still starts with the sounds of baby crying and the more one listens to the record, the more the potential is there for it to be a bit sickening, so it’s credit to Ms Taylor that that doesn’t happen., apart from the title track, but I’m sure there are many who would feel differently about it.
Overall, it’s a sweet record, mostly uplifting and interesting, and clearly a personal record and credit where credit’s due, it’s a more inventive record than most Americana types. It’s poppy, spectral and littered with lovely harmonies and surprises, like the Grandaddy flourishes of ‘This is It’. Ultimately, it would take a hard heart to criticise this record for the very thing that undoubtedly inspired it, but in the end, her happiness and newfound worries shine through and the fact that she’s chosen to share it all with us, can only be taken as a compliment.