Who knew it was possible to sing cheerfully about heartache? James Maddock has certainly had his share. He had a taste of stardom in 2000 and then hit bottom as he adjusted to life in the States, saw his marriage fail, and had his record label decide to drop him and not release his follow-up album to Songs from Stamford Hill with his band Wood. After that round of bad luck, Maddock disappeared from the limelight. But he didn't give up during the last ten years.
In 2009, Maddock came back and is telling stories through the tracks of Sunrise on Avenue C. Each of the twelve songs tells a bit of the story about a relationship beginning, waning, and possibly ending. It's a rare thing to find an album crafted to be listened to beginning to end. But when you find such an album, I feel you should enjoy it the way it was meant to be heard instead of picking and choosing individual songs.
These songs have a little of everything - strings, guitar, piano - and beautifully constructed melodies and lyrics. It's obvious he took his time getting this effort "just right" before releasing it to the public.
Among my favorites is the title song "Sunrise on Avenue C" which expresses the doubts in all relationships and the little restarts we go through now and then to keep love alive. Maddock's breathless voice sings... "We came to make this place our home / you say you've had enough you're movin' on / ... / you say nothing's quite the way it seems / forget the past, we'll start our lives again / don't shake your head 'cause baby I know we can..." I think all lasting relationships have those moments and the rise and fall of the song captures those rises and falls in relationships nicely.