Wednesday, June 28, 2017

James Maddock at City Winery

James Maddock, the son of a part-time jazz musician, was born and raised in a village called Countesthorpe, pretty much in the center of England. He sang in local bands including Fire Next Time, which released an album in 1988. In his 20s, Maddock relocated to London, England, where he formed an Americana-inspired quartet called Wood; understandably, the band had greater success in America than in the Brit-pop obsessed United Kingdom, and songs from Wood's sole 1999 album were featured on television shows like Dawson's Creek. Ultimately, this brought Maddock to New York City in 2004, where he launched a solo career. His 2009 solo album Sunrise On Avenue C won a New York Music Award for Best Americana Album. Maddock's fourth and most recent studio album is 2015's The Green. His next album, Insanity vs. Humanity, is anticipated later in 2017.

Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nile are fans of James Maddock, and at Maddock's debut headlining show at City Winery tonight it was easy to determine why; Maddock's music has grown to sound very much like that of those two singer-songwriters. Maddock's point of origin seemed to be an earthy folk aesthetic that went ballistic with powerhouse rock arrangements. Maddock's poetic lyrics and craggy vocals were given ammunition from his band mates, who loaded the songs with imaginative arrangements, sparkling piano fills and stinging guitar leads. Perhaps the singer-songwriter is in the process of outgrowing his folk and Americana roots, because the set took the vulnerability from which the songs were born and gave them turbo pop and mega kick. Whether his future performances continue at this fevered pace or they mellow back to his earlier style, either presentation is a musical event worth catching live.

Visit James Maddock at