Maria Taylor- Lynn Teeter Flower
Label: Saddle Creek
Release: March 6, 2007
Indie taste maker Saddle Creek, formed by a Nebraska fellowship that included current Bright Eyes members Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, along with Oberst's older brother Justin and Robb Nansel, have succeeded in putting out some of the most memorable and creative independent releases of the past few years, including Cursive's The Ugly Organ, The Faint's Wet From Birth, and the eponymous Bright Eyes recordings I'm Wide Awake It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Not remiss from the fraternity of "creekers" is Maria Taylor, whose Saddle Creek repertoire includes being one of the band Azure Ray and various session recordings with Bright Eyes. However, on her sophomore solo album, Lynn Teeter Flower, Taylor finds herself channeling her fellow artists such as Oberst, creating an album that is one of the most consistent albums Saddle Creek has put out in a while. Taylor infuses the songwriting talents of Oberst and Cursive's Tim Kasher with a startlingly well developed pop sense that sometimes channels Ani Difranco and Fiona Apple. Along with her Oberst-gone-woman vocal delivery, Lynn Teeter Flower succeeds in making Maria Taylor a name among the strongest in Saddle Creek and indeed in the indie music genre.
LTF begins with an almost 80s keyboard beat, Taylor's subdued and vulnerable voice along with a key lead that channels more of the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack than "Lover I Don't Have to Love." This song reveals one of the key difference between Taylor and her cohort Oberst; she does not tend to wallow, instead settling for describing her surroundings with a near confidence that brings to mind Fiona Apple's self-described "personal pick-me-ups." The songs are ones of friendship and love, but they also bring Taylor's personality with them. The occasional post-punk guitars that explode in choruses of "A Good Start," "No Stars," "Small Part of Me," and "My Own Fault" bring emotion and power to the songs that could have been lacking otherwise. Hardly any of the songs stay in one specific genre, instead experimenting with different Saddle Creek trademark indie sounds throughout, making Taylor's songs original among the record label that prides itself on originality.
However, Saddle Creek is not where the references end in Taylor's album. "Replay" channels "Bastard" from Ben Folds latest cd, along with Taylor's almost Ben Folds-like approach to emotion in her songs: show a little, mean a lot. Taylor is a talented musician, and knows exactly how to vary her music with the lyrics to bring out both in tandem, distinctly separate but also combined. The most unique song is ostensibly "Irish Goodbye," which features a bumping drum beat complete with subdued acoustic guitars + the only track that contains Taylor's voice being molded to fit the song. Plus, who can resist a folk singer songwriter employing a little freestyle rap in the bridge of her most hooky song?
The two standout tracks, however, are the two most reserved and quiet songs, "Clean Getaway" and "Lost Time." The subtleties in Taylor's voice are shown in full beauty on "Getaway" which features raindrops behind the soft acoustic guitars. The production is minimal, making the song much more homey and personal, along with the soft background vocals. "Lost Time" is the last proper song on LTF, featuring two guitars, a piano, and male guest-background vocalist that melds with Taylor's steady weakness like the music. Her poetic lyrics directed at no one but also everyone take center stage here as well; when all the music is stripped away, we find Maria Taylor, poet vocalist who can blend a beautiful melody with a equally stunning knack for verse.
While Saddle Creek boasts some of the most impressive folk releases of this age, varying from Bright Eyes to Cursive to Taylor's Azure Ray, Maria Taylor's most recent effort will be remembered for being the most complete solo album that Saddle Creek can showcase in their catalog. Taylor is a songwriter in the vein of Conor Oberst, and the listener will hear the connections in their musical styles; however Taylor is a songwriter in her own right, shining her pop sense and folkloric talent for verse and music through the mass of talentless folk women that permeate said scene today. She may be forever linked to Oberst and Saddle Creek for her assistance in many of their releases, as well as her band Azure Ray, but to forget that Maria Taylor is as talented as she shows herself to be in Lynn Teeter Flower would be to miss out on one of the most impressive songwriting releases of the year.
i had been planning to write a review for this album but am now very glad that i didn't because you would have put me to shame! the entire disc is INCREDIBLE and Maria Taylor is a goddess! I had the pleasure to see her live in LA last weekend and it was easily the best show i have been to in well over a year. Everyone should buy this album!