|15th June 2018|
The Voodoo Rooms
19a West Register Street, Edinburgh New Town EH2 2AA
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Since 1999, James Maddock’s boldly vulnerable songwriting, honeyed rasp, and distinct folk and Americana aesthetic have garnered acclaim from icons, peers, and tastemaking outlets like NPR, American Songwriter, Relix Magazine, and CMT Edge. Relix notes: “James Maddock possesses the kind of lived-in, craggy voice that would sound authoritative if he were singing the sports pages.
Fortunately, he doesn’t need to do that because his compositional skills are a match for his delivery.” His consistency as a recording artist and a captivating live performer have attracted a devoted fanbase engaged and generous enough to fan fund the last two entries in his six-album oeuvre. He's performed with Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nile, Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors) and David Immergluck (Counting Crows), sang on an album with Susan McKeown, and has built a respected international profile through tireless touring from the Northeast US to Europe to Australia.
Previous to his solo career, James was the frontman for the Columbia Records band Wood. It was in this context that he was first introduced to a mainstream audience when songs from the group’s debut, Songs From Stamford Hill, were prominently featured in Dawson’s Creek. In 2003, Maddock relocated from England to New York, and, soon after, launched his solo career. His 2009 solo album Sunrise On Avenue C won a New York Music Award for “Best Americana Album,” while its follow-up, Wake Up And Dream, ranked among the top albums of 2011 in WFUV's (NYC) Listener Poll.
For his latest album Insanity vs. Humanity (Songs of Avenue C Records), returns Maddock to his politically-charged roots, bringing him full circle after a three-decade career. Recorded in the wake of the American election that sent Donald Trump to the White House, the new album finds Maddock — a New York City resident since the early 2000s — rallying against capitalism, dictators, and the suppression of equal rights. Songs like "Fucked Up World" make no attempt to hide their anger, while the music itself underscores Maddock's lyrics with plenty of guitar firepower and piano punch. Gluing the mix together is his voice: a stunning instrument that's grown warm and weathered since his UK days fronting the band Wood, without losing its poignancy.
Backed by his longtime backup band of New York City musicians, Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors), Drew Mortali, Ben Stivers, Jason Darling, Garland Jeffreys, David Immergluck (Counting Crows) and Joy Askew, Maddock recorded the bulk of Insanity vs Humanity's 11 songs into two quick days. The goal was simple: get everyone into the same room, teach them the songs, and press record.
“This is the honest sound of the band playing the songs," he says simply. "It's not an overly complex record. I wanted it to sound as natural as it does when we play live. It's what happens when you get four guys together in a room, playing the chords and listening to each other."
“I don't think you can change people's opinions with a song," he admits. "A Trump supporter isn't going to turn into a socialist, just because they listened to something I wrote. But that can't stop me from talking about the world we all live in. I had to write about these insane times, and I wanted to do so in a way that wasn't one-dimensional or phony."
The modern world is a scary one. Maddock sets that dangerous place to music, mixing sweeping melodies and rousing choruses with lyrics that shine a bright light on these darker times. It's an album about the importance of speaking up and acting out. An album about what it means to be human, even in these insane times. Now entering his fourth decade onstage, Maddock has rarely sounded so compelling, so confident, so necessary “This is my best album. It’s an upbeat record with really strong songs and a lot of surprises,” the British transplant reveals. “It all happened really naturally. I just listened to where the songs where going and allowed myself the time to give each one a proper sonic home.”
Freddie Stevenson is a British/American singer/songwriter from Edinburgh, currently living and working in New York. Playing guitar and writing songs from an early age, he trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has released three studio albums, the most recent being ‘The City Is King’ 2011. A collection of fifty of his songs, recorded during periods of transience and given away for free online, have been published as the have been published as the songbook ’50 Songs’ 2011. In early July 2012 Stevenson was a featured performer on the WFUV "On Your Radar" series in NYC. His collaborations as a songwriter include work with Mike Scott of the Waterboys. He performs regularly in New York City and the Northeast solo and with his band.
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