In Gone Bill Madden delivers politically charged social commentary set to what can be best described as a hybrid combination of alternative and folk music. The album is a sounding board for Madden’s deep convictions and they are delivered with a profound passion.
He does bring something unique to his music, his voice. It has a rich quality and a gravelly edge that enhances the songs. Its rough-around-the-edges tone adds to the political protest. Though it would be nearly impossible to think Madden was insincere in his messages, a brief look at his website proves how committed he is to his convictions. He provides a list of links and information on a page labeled activism.
The CD opens with the “Weight of His Words” and the tone for Gone is set. It’s highly charged and politically critical. The song is strong lyrically with a powerful message, but the melody gets a bit monotonous. It is one of those tracks that leans a bit more to the folk side and is reminiscent of traditional ’70s protest song.
The protest theme is universal to the CD as is the strength – Madden’s songwriting. Every song has a message and not one is flawed on that basic level. It is musically where the CD begins to falter at times. A few of the tracks just aren’t as strong as the others and on some, like “Dangerous Game” and “Everything and That,” he unsuccessfully uses special effects in an attempt to enhance the tone. A more simple production of these would have greatly enhanced the end product.
One doesn’t have to look any further then the title track “Gone” to hear Madden’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. The song seems to be taken fresh from the headlines and warns of the consequences of allowing government to continue as it has been. Again the strength is in the message. There is no question that Madden is a poet. On this track, however, he pushes his voice out of its comfort zone, and the endearing quality is lost. While this is distracting, it is still a great track; I just think it would have been more powerful had he let the full quality of his voice shine.
As I previously mentioned, “Dangerous Game” is another track with distractions, this time in the form of an odd motorcycle sound that resonates in the background. I think the attempt was to make the background as eerie as the lyrics, but the effect was lost. Madden delivery of the lyrics is incredible and gives the song a longing feel.
Gone, released January 3, is a album with powerful political and social commentary. While there are some flaws, overall it is still a good listen if for nothing more then for Madden’s message and his delivery of it. Bill Madden’s website contains lyrics, photos and press as well as links to the causes he supports.
01. Weight of His Words
02. Path of The Heart
03. Might Have Been
06. Dangerous Game
07. What in the World
08. Mi Vida Es
09. Art of Being
10. Awful Good
11. Everything and That