Review : Azure Ray - Drawing Down the Moon
Pitchforkt's easy to forget, but when Azure Ray were active during the first years of the previous decade, Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor were fairly prolific, releasing three albums in three years along with a handful of singles and EPs. Their last was 2003's Hold On Love, and a year later, for various reasons, Azure Ray went on indefinite hiatus, and the childhood friends went their separate ways. In the interim, they both stayed typically busy: Each released a few solo albums and recorded various side projects. But even in 2004, it seemed inevitable that they would one day gravitate back toward each other. Sure enough, they started playing shows again in 2008 and now have released their fourth album as Azure Ray, Drawing Down the Moon.
Listening to these songs, it's like the last six years have been erased; Fink and Taylor pick up right where they left off, building on the spare arrangements and hushed vocals that have always defined their sound. Eric Bachmann even returns to produce the album, making him the unofficial third Ray. In a niche now crowded with similar harmony acts like the Watson Twins and the Chapin Sisters, Azure Ray still sound idiosyncratic, eschewing pop-historical settings for quietly, almost casually innovative arrangements.
Drawing Down the Moon begins with a gorgeous flourish of harp, an overture in miniature, but it's more Disney than Joanna Newsom, more "Baby Mine" than Ys. The song that follows, oddly, is a lullaby in reverse, gently rousing you-- or perhaps the long dormant Azure Ray-- from slumber. Rather than jump back in, Fink and Taylor ease into the album. "Don't Leave My Mind" is equally hushed, a plea to a former lover who's going somewhere beyond the reach of texts and cell phones. Again, the sentiment could apply to their own lengthy absence: "You can go where each day takes you, some place I can't find," they sing together, "but don't leave my mind."...full text
ExpressnightoutAthens band Azure Ray's sparse, folk-inspired music is often described as dream pop, but that's not fully accurate. The eeriness that flows through most of the tracks on the band's latest work, "Drawing Down the Moon," would make a better soundtrack to fitful tossing and turning.
The work of Azure Ray members Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink (the band broke up in 2004 but reunited last year) is often ethereal and breezy, but the duo's tracks are never fully stripped-down: With harp, bass, cello, oboe, violin, bassoon and drums, they often seem sparse but are truly multi-layered. "Drawing Down the Moon," which drops Tuesday, Sept. 14, marks the group's first album since 2003's "Hold On Love." The 12 tracks truly display the group's range, from barebones opener "Wake Up Sleepyhead" to the expansive "Make Your Heart." Taylor and Fink are superb singers, and they use their talent to create songs about bitterness and sadness that will creep into your brain and set up shop in its darkest crevices....full text
SpinmagOrenda Fink and Maria Taylor dissolved Azure Ray in 2004 to pursue projects that closely recalled their band's sad, soothing sound, and this reconvening offers few surprises. Mannered, wistful melancholy abounds: When pulses quicken (as on "Don't Leave My Mind" and "In the Fog"), Azure Ray can prick ears. When relying mostly on their beautiful voices, as with "On and On Again," they become Indigo Girls for the indie-rock set. "We do the best that we can" is a telling lyric -- Drawing is occasionally eager and unstoppably pleasant, but just as often drifts as dazzles....full text
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