James Maddock - Another Life

James Maddock: Another Life

Another Life / Summer 2013

There’s an impassioned longing evident in the opening melody of “Another Life,” the first track on James Maddock’s most recent release by the same name that pervades the entirety of the album.  And even if you’re not one of the many emphatic and diehard fans who have come to adore Maddock’s signature raspy croon and deft songwriting over the last few years, the music will sound and feel classic instantly.  This is no accident.  The charm of James Maddock – to somehow access all that is timeless and make immediate and lasting connections – is the product of years of honing his craft.  Another Life is evidence of a master songwriting at the top of his game.

“I want to find a truth that resonates,” Maddock says of his new work, and we are better for his efforts.  While Another Life, which is a collection of pop gems, luscious ballads, and rootsy Americana, is not entirely autobiographical, its arrangements and overall execution feel so intimate that it functions as such.  Here is an artist with an uncanny understanding of the full range and complexity of human emotion and experience not unlike contemporary impresarios of the downtown NYC singer-songwriter scene, Grammy Award winners Norah Jones and Jesse Harris.  The more personal Maddock gets, the more universal his message becomes.  “I’ve Been There Too,” one of the album’s many radio-friendly singles, feels like an endearing consolation to the listener who can’t help but become the friend on the other side of a telephone call or an earnest conversation.  And “Better on My Own” is the letter to the self that we all can relate to.  Throughout Another Life, Maddock employs his soulful delivery and poetic lyricism in a deeply reflective collection of songs that refuse to be anything but sincere and honest, which is a refreshing change from a contemporary musical landscape infused with irony and bitter wit.

Maddock has brought together an incredible team including multi-instrumentalists Tony Scherr and Larry Campbell and producer Matt Pierson to create Another Life, which comes out in the summer of 2013.  The album, funded entirely on fan pledges and support, is the culmination of his new birth and subsequent maturation as a solo artist, which is what makes the new album’s title so apropos.

James Maddock – Another Life

In 1999, his band Wood released Songs From Stamford Hill for Columbia Records.  The critically acclaimed album produced a chart topper in “Stay You” and contained several songs that found a home on Dawson’s Creek, propelling the band and Maddock into a kind of stardom for which all musicians dream.  He toured with major international pop acts like Paula Cole and Train, and fans across the world adored his music.  After the band broke up, Maddock made a move to New York City’s Lower East Side and began a new journey as a solo artist.   He sharpened his skills in little pubs and venues and recorded a string of well-received albums for an independent record label Casa Del Fuego.  2009’s Sunrise on Avenue C was given the NY Music Award for Best Americana Album and won Maddock the affection and heart of many new listeners who would soon become a devoted and loyal fan base.  Fittingly, James Maddock: Live at the Rockwood Music Hall came next and still serves as a snapshot of the raw energy and heartfelt emotion of James’s live show with the band. 2011’s Wake Up and Dream was voted one of the top albums in WFUV’s Listener Poll.  The song “Beautiful Now,” co-written with Mike Scott of The Waterboys, was named the #9 song in the same poll.  At this point, Maddock was playing with some of the finest musicians in the city including Aaron Comess of The Spin Doctors and David Immergluck of The Counting Crows.  This led to the recording of Jimmy and Immy Live at Rockwood Music Hall, which captures a stripped down and more whimsical Maddock at home with his fans on the stage that has marked this new incarnation of his career.  During the span of time that these four full-length releases and the anthemic single about his hometown of Leicester called “My Old Neighborhood” comprised, Maddock performed with Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nile, sang on an album with Susan McKeown, and was featured on National Public Radio and Mountain Stage.  In addition, he was given one of the greatest compliments a musician could receive – a raving review by “Idiot’s Delight” founder and free form radio legend Vin Scelsa, who called Maddock’s work “heartbreakingly beautiful and exquisitely crafted…touches the soul.”

And this, perhaps, is the thing about James Maddock and Another Life.  It’s the same thing that’s at play on the great albums of artists like Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, or Van Morrison and, ultimately, the secret ingredient for what makes certain music transcend and endure.  When an album feels and sounds right, we likewise feel like we’re a part of the dialogue these artists are having with the world.  It stirs our souls.  We wake from their dreams refreshed and inspired to chase our own, no matter how many lives it takes.

Alan Semerdjian
New York City