Maria Taylor is a singer-songwriter from Birmingham, AL, She is also a member of the duo Azure Ray (Saddle Creek Records) with Orenda Fink. Taylor has previously played or collaborated with Bright Eyes, Moby, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Daniel Johnston and more.
Taylor started her musical career at the age of fifteen in the band Little Red Rocket with what would be a long time collaborator, Orenda Fink. Taylor and Fink later moved to Athens, Georgia where they formed Azure Ray. The pair signed to WARM and released their self-titled debut in 2001, which included the hit songs "Sleep,” “Displaced” and “Rise.” Azure Ray released their second album, Burn and Shiver in 2002 and around that time, Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst invited the band on tour and introduced them to Saddle Creek, who released their following records, November EP, The Drinks We Drank Last Night, 2003's Hold on Love. Following the release of Hold on Love, Taylor and Fink began a 6-year hiatus.
Taylor released her first solo album 11:11 on May 24, 2005 with features including Conor Oberst, Gretta Cohn of Cursive, Andy LeMaster and Mike Mogis as both musicians and producers. Her second solo album, Lynn Teeter Flower, was released on March 6, 2007, and the the first track "A Good Start," was subsequently named one of NPR's 10 best songs of the year for 2007. On March 31, 2009 she released her third full length, LadyLuck featuring the song "Cartoons and Forever Plans," co-written by and including guest vocals from R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. LadyLuck reached number 48 on Billboard's "Heatseakers" charts.
Azure Ray reunited for a one-off reunion show in December of 2008 at Los Angeles's iconic Troubadour and in 2010, released their first album in six years, Drawing Down the Moon. Overlook, Maria's 4th solo album, was released August 16, 2011. After moving back to her hometown of Birmingham, Taylor was unable to write for nearly a year, eventually composing the entire album over two weeks during a break in touring with Azure Ray. This release marks the first time Taylor produced her own album, which Paste called "her best, most animated collection in years." In August of 2012, Azure Ray reunited for As Above, So Below EP. The next year, Taylor released her fifth solo record Something About Knowing on October 29, 2013.
After moving back to Los Angeles, Taylor wrote and recorded In the Next Life, released December 9, 2016 on her own label, Flower Moon Records. The album features guest appearances from familiar collaborators Joshua Radin, Conor Oberst and more. "If Only" (featuring Oberst) was prominently featured in NBC's This Is Us. NPR called it "her warmest and most affecting album... filled with gorgeous, touching songs about family, legacy, fear and the pursuit of contentment." Flower Moon Records has since re-released Taylor's earlier albums, 11:11 and LadyLuck, as well as Azure Ray's self-titled record and Burn and Shiver.
IN THE NEXT LIFE
“Perhaps her warmest and most affecting album…” – NPR
“4.5 / 5 stars” – Rolling Stone Germany
“A compact, endearing set of songs that gain more depth with repetition… this album resonates.” – ABC News
Am I in it? is it now? Is it what comes after this life?
I’ve lived so many lives within this life.
I grew up singing and writing songs as early as I can remember. I was writing words before I knew words, making them up and singing them.
I started a band when I was 15 with my best friend, Orenda Fink. We named it Punchanella. Later we grew into a pop band and called ourselves Little Red Rocket. As we honed our craft, we also found our music to be cathartic and a way to cope with the death of someone close to us. Our music changed as it mirrored our lives and with the change we became Azure Ray. We came into ourselves as Azure Ray.
But as time equals growth and change, after many records and many, many years together I started my solo career. I loved the freedom I had to explore different genres within a single record. Every record I released since then has been a reflection of where life has taken me.
Fast forward to 2016.
A move back to California and a husband and two children later I’ve found myself looking at my favorite release of all of my work. I rummaged through my life, taking parts of my past lives and intertwining them with my current life. I’ve imagined my life beyond what is now. I’ve taken all that I’ve learned both musically and lyrically (with the help of my incredibly talented friends) and put it into this record. I kept asking myself, “If I die tomorrow, what would I want my last record to say?”
I teamed up with one of my favorite songwriters and producers, Nik Freitas, to co-produce this record. I love his music and what he brought to these songs. I called in help from many of my super-talented friends and family. I balanced my femininity with beautiful male backing vocals. “If Only” features Conor Oberst. “It Will Find Me” and “Pretty Scars” feature Joshua Radin. There are also appearances from Nik Freitas, Macey Taylor, Jake Bellows, Louis Schefano and the female exception, Morgan Nagler. One of my dearest friends and favorite poets, Brad Armstrong, was my lyric coach for this record. Writing a record and raising two kids has many challenges. I would find myself in ruts with the lyrics and Brad would help me with different approaches and steer my brain away from the obvious. I even co-wrote lyrics to “There’s Only Now” with one of my favorite lyricists and friends, Morgan Nagler. My connection to this record was also the impetus for self-releasing under the my own label, “Flower Moon Records.”
In The Next Life sums up my past, my present, and my future. I’m so fortunate to have this life to write about, these friends to write it with.
“As if you were on fire from within. The moon lives in the lining of your skin.” - Pablo Neruda
– written by Maria Taylor
MUSIC & VIDEOS
NEWS & REVIEWS
"IF ONLY" FEATURED ON "THIS IS US" SOUNDTRACK
"If Only" which appeared during the closing minutes of season 1, episode 9 of the Emmy award winning drama "This Is Us," appears on the Season 1 soundtrack of with Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder & more!
NPR FIRST LISTEN: MARIA TAYLOR "IN THE NEXT LIFE"
...To process it all, she's made perhaps her warmest and most affecting album, In The Next Life, and filled it with gorgeous, touching songs about family, legacy, fear and the pursuit of contentment.
MARIA TAYLOR DEBUTS 'IF ONLY' VIDEO FEATURING CONOR OBERST.
"This video was directed by one of my favorite photographers, Liz Bretz,” Taylor told Billboard. “I wanted the video to reflect my lives within my life. I wanted it to tie in my past and present with a dream like quality.”