I recently received some promotional material concerning Madison Violet and it contained one of the best opening sentences I have read describing a new album release. “If Lucinda Williams were shagging Gillian Welch and had a love child with Steve Earle, their offspring might sound a little bit like Madison Violet’s new album No Fool For Trying.” You have got to love it.
Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are Canadians who formed Madison Violet in 1999. This is their third album release following Worry The Jury (2004) and Caravan (2006). They are well known in their native Canada having received four East Coast Music Award nominations and a 2008 Canadian Folk Award nomination for best vocal group.
They have been road warriors for the past decade opening for such acts as the Indigo Girls and Ron Sexsmith while touring throughout Europe, Australia and North America. This constant touring has served them well as their sound is well developed, sophisticated and they seem to have a clear musical vision.
Every once in awhile an independent release truly shines and this is one of those occasions. MacEachern and MacIsaac are able to produce crystal clear harmonies. If ever two voices were made to join together these are them. While individually they are very good the sum is better than the parts.
The second thing they have going for them is their songwriting abilities. They wrote ten of the eleven tracks. Their stories are thoughtful, well crafted, and exhibit a sensitivity. Themes of loss, desire, and regret all succumb to their gentle musical treatment.
Their sound can be described as alternative country or folk although given the lyrics I feel if they stripped back to the basics they would come close to traditional folk. Fiddles, mandolin, the use of an upright bass, solid drumming, and occasional electric guitars all support their acoustic sound.
The eleven tracks have a continuity to them and flow together well. Standouts include the title track, “The Ransom,” “Lauralee,” “Baby In The Black & White,” and “Time and Tide;” all of which take the listener on a thoughtful journey.
Hopefully No Fool For Trying will garner Madison Violet some well deserved publicity and commercial success outside of their native country. Based on this release it would be well deserved.