If you like folk music that's a little adventurous but not too outlandish, then the latest offering from singer-songwriter Maria Taylor is worth a listen.
Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, Oct. 2013) is an exploration of what it means to be content with life. Yes, great art often comes from heartache, struggles, drama and conflict, but sometimes there is beauty in simplicity and it, too, can resonate. In Something, Taylor dives into the simpler side of things, and while the results aren't earth-shattering, they aren't half bad.
Some inspiration for the record comes from Taylor's recent entrance into motherhood, and it's clear this new phase of life agrees with her. "Up All Night" is a charming ode to her newborn and the lack of sleep Taylor now experiences, but she spices it up with an electric guitar riff that is eerily reminiscent of The Beatles' "Revolution," so it's not exactly a lullaby.
The easygoing feel of the mid-tempo rock title track is augmented by sentiments about enjoying a good life filled with love. "Sum of Our Lives" features another dose of encouragement, with Taylor singing about how we are more than just what we do and what happens in our lives. There are moments when Taylor touches on the fragility of human nature ("Broken Objects"), but these are few and far between as Taylor aims for less serious subject matter.
Musically, the album is fluid with warm sounds and smooth rhythms carrying it along. "Folk Song Melody" is a dreamy track replete with subtle percussion, and "Saturday in June" is the sort of easy listening folk/Americana that will add a little sunshine to a cold winter day. "Tunnel Vision" is warm, echoing dream pop, and the ethereal beauty of the closer "A Lullaby for You" is incredibly soothing. There are some toe-tapping beats and rhythms throughout, and Taylor infuses a handful of the tracks with some nice hooks and grooves despite the generally laid-back feel of the album.
There are moments when Something feels too specific to Taylor--thus inaccessible to listeners--and it might be too cheery at times, but if you're a fan of folk music, this isn't a bad thing. Maybe it isn't profound or life-changing or philosophically challenging, but not every album is, and not every album is meant to be those things. Something About Knowing is simply about seeing the beauty in everyday life, something we should all do from time to time.