The first single off Maria Taylor’s new album, “If Only” with Conor Oberst, showed up on the new drama This Is Us, and it makes sense. Taylor writes life-soundtracking pieces, full of personal insight and openness. Her music, without fail, is lovely and expressive, and her new album In the Next Life opens a warm space to sink into, full of indie-folk from the west coast.
Opener “Home” begins the album with a piano part that might be a perfect fit for those, like the singer, who have “traveled into the twilight”, but it has the touch of a seasonal commercial, too, something with low lighting and a family member smiling in surprise. Taylor’s lyrics make a treasure of experience, but it’s too easy to lose focus in the album’s smooth prettiness, leaving the album between something that — unfortunately given Taylor’s writing — shifts to a nice background and an aural comfort that makes tracking the lyric developments a pleasure.