Column 347: Maria Taylor talks about being in a family way, critics and her new album; Drive By Truckers tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Singer/songwriter Maria Taylor is having a baby.
She dropped that bomb during an interview last week with the Arizona State University student newspaper, The State Press. And although the Saddle Creek Records chanteuse, who is also half of the duo of Azure Ray, is on a tour with a new solo album, I couldn’t think of a more important topic of discussion.
“Well, I can tell you that I met my boyfriend at a show in Washington, D.C.,” Taylor said while lying down in the tour van before her show Monday night in Portland. “He’s the first non-musician I’ve ever dated. He’s a Chief of Staff for a politician — I’m not going to tell you who.”
The reason for keeping his anonymity: “I haven’t asked him if he wants me to talk about it,” Taylor said. “He’s a really wonderful person. If I’m going to move to Washington, D.C., he must be a wonderful person. I remember driving into (Washington) before I met him, I was sitting in back-to-back traffic as always and I said, ‘Watch me meet someone from here and have to move to this f***ing town.'”
She went on to say Washington isn’t that bad. In fact, the more she experiences its history, museums and parks, the more she likes it. So the plan is to move to Washington, have the baby and then start touring again with baby in tow. “And my mom will be tour nanny,” Taylor said. “She just retired and wants to see the country. I plan on working on an Azure Ray record before having the baby to get as much done as we can. So the Azure Ray tour will be the first baby tour.”
They say having a baby changes everything, but does that include the way you write music? “I feel like it will,” Taylor said. “I draw from what’s happening in my life when I write. I imagine my disposition will be different, and it will even affect the sound as well as the lyrics.”
Taylor, both as a solo artist and in Azure Ray, has defined her music with deeply personal love songs, a style that seems almost passé as she’s about to enter a different stage in life, but she’s still not sure if she’ll leave love songs behind. “I haven’t written a song since I found out I was pregnant,” she said. “I might feel like focusing on different aspects of life, but what if I’m not good at that? I need to start writing again, but right now I’m real sick and on tour, and I don’t write when I’m on tour. I’ve been throwing up a lot. I haven’t felt creative.”
She said she didn’t think she would be sick just three months into the pregnancy — her due date is April 30 (“A Taurus,” she adds), and she won’t find out if it’s a boy or girl until after the tour.
“I was told I would feel amazing, but my body just shuts down at 9 p.m. and I get shaky and go to bed and get sick again” she said. “I can’t drink and I have social anxiety. It’s not the same experience to tour pregnant, but I feel like I’m conquering my fears. I’m talking to people every night and battling sickness.
“The cool thing is that I feel like the baby has all of its organs and just grows and gets bigger,” she added. “I can’t help thinking that I’m teaching it rhythms. It feels the vibrations. We really rock out, so I think it’s going to be a drummer or bass player.”
With songs like guitar-driven grinder “Matador” and strobing, soaring album opener “Masterplan,” Overlook, Taylor’s new album released this past August, may be her most diverse collection to date. The album balances the rock with Taylor’s usual delicate, reflective material, like the dreamy “Happenstance,” and somber “This Could Take a Lifetime.” Critical response also has been rather diverse — reviewers either love it or say the record sounds too rushed.
“I feel like I shot myself in the foot in the press release,” Taylor said, laughing. “I said I locked myself in a room and wrote it in two weeks. I feel like (critics) think I didn’t spend enough time and that it was thrown together. I could have written all my records that way. If I said I’d spent two years on it, they would say it was my best record yet. People who loved it probably didn’t read the press release.”
Overlook marks a return to Saddle Creek after Taylor strayed to Nettwerk to release 2009’s Ladyluck. She said the label switch was merely testing different waters. “There are pros and cons about each label,” she said. “Nettwerk put a lot of money into it, but we didn’t make it back, so I didn’t make money. With Saddle Creek, you can recoup and make money, and that’s hard to do these days. I don’t want to have to wait tables or go back to school.”
For now the biggest question is how Taylor will balance her career and motherhood. While her life is about to change forever, she said her new arrival won’t keep her from making music.
“When I’m on stage that one hour, I’m 100 percent happy,” she said. “I have social anxiety, but I feel like I’m connecting with people, and singing is my favorite thing to do in the world, especially on stage with my friends and family. I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life not doing that. I need that.”
Maria Taylor plays with Big Harp and Dead Fingers Sunday, Oct. 30, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St.. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 402.345.7569 or visit theshowdown.com.
* * *’
I admit to not being terribly familiar with Drive By Truckers, though last weekend I was walking around Homer’s and heard part of their latest album, Go-Go Boots, over the store’s sound system and liked what I heard. The band is playing tonight at Slowdown with Those Darlins. $25, 9 p.m.
Also tonight Kyle Harvey opens a show at The Waiting Room for Boulder-based folk rocker Gregory Alan Isakov. South of Lincoln also is on the bill. $10, 9 p.m.
* * *
Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.