Madeline – White Flag Review

Posted by Jason Petros on May 05, 2009

madelineMadeline’s “White Flag” is American Gothic  – her brush strokes are playful, swallowed vocals, minor key melodies and sleepy beats that move from 2/4 to 4/4 without a missed tap of the foot.  Her palette is the landscape of a modern, romanticized rural America; steeped in tradition, vehemently denying evolution, but sternly and solemnly accepting its own fate.  The album is very pretty, dancing along with downtrodden banjos, acoustic guitars and peaceful traditional country percussion – complete with a brushed snare snaking its way in and out of songs.  Her ability to wrap the sounds of her words is almost Andrew Birdish, but never jumps into his overly pretentious vocabulary – Madeline stays firmly in the rural portions of the dictionary – “you, cannot break my heart, because it’s made of wires, glass, and little icicles, these are not tears I cry, no darling I, I have champagne flowing from my spectacles”.   For those who do not appreciate the abstract, her music is akin to Wilco, The Decemberists (The Crane Wife), and previously reviewed local band, Rego.  The performance on the album is heavy-eyed and lethargic but the music stays interesting enough to hold onto your ears until the end.  There is a creepy undercurrent to Madeline’s tunes, it’s as if she’s hiding something behind her Jenny Lewis-ish vocals – but will never let you in to see it.   I suppose this mystery could be attune to sexual chemistry, evident in my favorite song on the album, “Dirty South (Tie One On)” – but the countrified arrangements remove the sex from the rest of the album, replacing it with a steadfast and square-jawed representation of rural America by a talented songstress who’s not afraid to show you, in all the truth and beauty, who she is.

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