The Inside Pulse:
The current day incarnation of the singer-songwriter genre allows artists like this to flourish; at a time when many Americans feel forgotten, Bill Madden reminds us of the strength that can be found in one voice. Ripe and raw due to the political and social scandals of the past decade, Madden rallies against the insanity with Gone, an irrepressible, 11-track diatrabe directed at the conservative right. Feeling empowered and seeking justice, Madden tackles difficult themes of loss, love and lamentation set against a stark sociopolitical backdrop. Make no mistake, this is a man that is moved by disillusionment with the world and strives to make sense of elements that are constantly changing and shifting before his very eyes. The old-school, psychedelic rock vibe laid down by producer/instrumentalist Billy Mohler makes this a parcel worth unwrapping. In examining its elements you gain a sense of understanding and acceptance of Madden as a whole, and of the things he is fighting to change one listener at a time.
“Art of Being” encapsulates the frustrating task of making sense of the world today:
Here I sit/Trying to comprehend/
What is it/While all around/
The right-side up is/Upside down/
This irony/Is not lost on me.
Positives: “Mi Vida Es” (My Life Is) shows that despite all the bitterness he may be filled with, he still has many blessings to count and appreciate. If a song like this fits anywhere, it’s on this album; he wants the listener to understand that music is the vehicle he drives for political and social action, even still, he knows that there is a lot in this world to love and appreciate. This is a love song written to the “powers that be,” a gracious thank-you note for the cosmically inclined.
Negatives: Preaching to the masses is a dangerous game, as if and when the times change, Gone will only remind you of a time we all hope to one day forget. Soon.
Cross-breed: Bill Madden is equal parts Elliot Smith, Ani DiFranco, Leonard Cohen, and Elvis Costello (when he was still young and angry.) His views aren’t going to hurt him with liberal Americans; his time on the soapbox is brief, allowing one to soak in the melodies and the magic of the work.
Reason to buy: You’ve seen Stephen Colbert’s “roast” of President Bush at the White House Press Corps dinner and wish that more people had the audacity and strength to say so many things that need to be said during these times. If you are looking something different and fresh, written by an artist/activist with integrity, this is for you.