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  Azure Ray  
  Azure Ray  
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Right before I start to write a review, I play the album one last time just to make sure the impressions which have formed in my head are in fact an accurate reflection of the music itself. I've already listened to the debut album by Azure Ray numerous times, and I'd already begun to write the review in my mind. In fact, I have the first song off the album, Sleep, stuck in my head, ready to be pulled to the forefront with any little trigger.

I was ready to discuss the ethereal, and somewhat melancholy vocals which are carried along by the simple yet catchy piano and stringed accompaniment. I'd decided to touch on the underlying jangle in the music, perhaps the strongest indication that this band is from Athens, Ga. Somehow, almost every band I've heard from Athens (even the metal bands) have something jangly about them. It must be in the water. And I'd even boned up on my band history, ready to mention that Azure Ray is Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, better known for fronting Little Red Rocket, an uptempo Indie bubblegum pop concoction. I hadn't found the one thing yet, though, that could explain why this album was special, and so I popped in Azure Ray to give it one more listen while I sorted through my thoughts.

About halfway through the first track, the phone rang. It was a friend, going through a love-induced crisis and needing someone to talk to. I could barely hear him over the music -- airy though it may be, anything can be distracting when you're on the phone. Besides, my cats were chasing little mouse shaped toys and each other, making loads of noise as they raced through the house, bouncing off the walls in manic fits of kittenish fury. Aggravated, I went out onto the front porch to finish my phone conversation.

When I hung up the phone, I went back inside. Azure Ray was still playing. However, the cats weren't running around any more. In fact, they were asleep in the chairs, little furry bodies curled up with paws covering their eyes, purring in dreamy contentment. Neither of them looked up as I closed the door, although one rolled onto her back, stretching with an audible sigh.

And then I realized: this is music for cats to sleep to. This may not seem like much, but think about it. Cats don't really sleep, they catnap, ready to jump at anything that sounds out of place. Small noises startle them. But there was nothing on Azure Ray which was loud, or jarring, or out of place. One song flows into another without fanfare, turning the entire album into a single flowing composition, with each song representing a discreet movement. And still the cats slept.

But my attention was now focused - I was able to look at the larger picture. I really began to notice the way the sounds of the different songs linked together - one note would barely fade out before another one would fade in and even the keys of the songs seemed complimentary. More impressively, despite these linkages, the songs were all different, with unique vocal harmonies and without that annoying repetition of instrumentation which seems commonplace on other vocal driven slow indie music.

As the last notes faded away, the sudden silence of the room struck me. And my cats quickly roused themselves and wandered off to begin playing again.

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