The first show of the year for me here in San Francisco was a great one. Birmingham Alabama singer/songwriter and Saddle Creek Records staple Maria Taylor brought her four-piece band to the Rickshaw Stop last week. Taylor, who is best known for her work with the bands Bright Eyes, Azure Ray, and Orenda Fink, is touring in support of her new record Something About Knowing.
There is of course no shortage of female singer/ songwriters in the world today, but Taylor brings something very unique to the table. For one, she plays several instruments, including the piano, guitar, and drums. She would open up her set this evening on the drums before switching to guitar and taking center stage. And two, she perfectly meshes together pop sensibility with a warm folk-rock sound that is produced magnificently through vintage gear minus one high E-string.
Taylor reminds me of my two favorite female vocalists rolled into one: she has the luminance of Kristen Hersh mixed with the pop sensibility and musicianship of Sam Phillips. Highlights from the set that evening included “Cartoons and Forever Plans,” a remarkable song that features Michael Stipe harmonizing beautifully with Taylor on the record, and “Up All Night,” which is about motherhood as a new life experience.
Throughout the show, Maria told stories about being on tour with her baby and how her life has changed for the better since becoming a mother. She comes across live just as you would expect her to after spending some time with her records, wearing her heart on her sleeve while immersing herself in the moment with her band. It was a fantastic show from start to finish and a real treat to see one of my favorite records of the year played so elegantly live in a small club. Nicely done, Maria Taylor and company.
Maria Taylor is on tour now, and Something About Knowing sounds fantastic on vinyl. Check out more of the photos from the show in the gallery.