Lonesome Onry and Mean

Lonesome Onry and Mean: Maria Taylor's LadyLuck

During his Fourth of July road trip to San Antonio, Lonesome Onry and Mean found himself listening to Maria Taylor's excellent LadyLuck and wondering how he could have been so remiss in not reporting on such a fine record.

Producer, singer, writer, arranger, Taylor is a huge multi-threat talent who manufactures appealing, instantly memorable songs. I don't remember the last time I heard a record with so many instantly likeable tracks that seem to fit so many radio formats. This is certainly one of the catchiest records LOM has heard this year and stands a better than average chance of winding up in the year-end Top 10.

A veteran of the indie scene in Athens, GA with her duo Azure Ray and several projects with Omaha's Bright Eyes collective, Taylor writes brilliant slice-of-life lyrics that could easily find themselves bound into a volume that would fit in the Barnes and Noble self-help section.

She moves easily from bright folky pop filled with quiet ennui and rays of hope ("LadyLuck," "My Favorite ... Love") to smart, icy-cool Jenny Lewis-like indie rock ("Timelapse Lifeline," "Green Butterfly"). "100,000 Times" and "Orchids" would do Joni Mitchell proud, with additional props to Annie Lennox.

When Taylor veers over into disco-ish club beats on tracks like "A Chance" and "It's Time," it all works.

With Michael Stipe perfectly blending his distinctive voice with Taylor's, instantly memorable album closer "Cartoons and Forever Plans" should be a candidate for Song of the Year.

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William Michael Smith