Birmingham, Alabama-native Maria Taylor has quite literally spent over half her life making music, since the age of 15 with local band Little Red Rocket to being one-half of Azure Ray with Orenda Fink to Now It's Overhead to her own solo work.
LadyLuck is Taylor's third solo album, adding to her already impressive catalog that includes the critically-acclaimed 11:11 (2005) and Lynn Teeter Flower (2007), and also marks a new chapter in the young indie folk singer-songwriter's life as it was inspired by a concluding relationship and written during an intended move to Los Angeles.
Taylor describes "this change in my life was so so [sic] needed," and is optimistic that her recent experiences didn't fill her with cynicism or any ill feelings (press release). On the contrary, she explains "that, whereas lots of older songs have happy words but a sad undertone, these songs have sad words but with hopeful undertones of renewal."
The album's origins give the album title much context. Initially, I thought the title merely described life's eventual good fortune, but the eponymous track is surprisingly upbeat that instead describes "LadyLuck" as being more along the lines of karma: "Your new life, it starts today / It doesn't always work the way you planned it / Ok." That last "ok" is sung with content and not as condescending reassurance.
The beautiful "Time Lapse Lifeline" follows with a similar outlook on life, with Taylor's firm but soothing vocals flowing well with the whirlwind-like melodies to match the song's theme of time's potentially rapid and lifeless currents existing side-by-side. The upbeat mood is a stark contrast to the more somber ballad "My Favorite Love."
Luckily, Taylor picks up the tempo with the carefree approach of "100,000 Times" and the confidence of "Green Butterfly." The very moving and honest "Orchids" is also very positive, perceptive of the fact that love existed and will always exist one some level but can never ever be like it was.
"Cartoons And Forever Plans" concludes the album on a somewhat odd note. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Now It's Overhead's Andy LeMaster helped co-write the song with Taylor and it's unusually cheery behind the reflective "Orchids." At some point, you must move on, but normally it wouldn't be this quick to have such a playful attitude. I guess if it's all part of life, then why not?