Unlikely Prom Queen
Grace of God
But Very Natural
Maddie - piano, keyboards, harmonica & all vocals
Katherine Martin - cello
Rich Weaver - guitars
Simon Gore - drums & percussion
Craig Jameson - bass
Dave Hiscocks - hand drums & percussion (Houston)
Produced by Maddie & Pete Rowley.
All songs written & arranged by Maddie Southorn copyright 2001
What People Said...
Maddie's a singer-songwriter based in Bristol, who's been garnering plaudits galore both locally and across the Atlantic, and is likely to achieve wider recognition in this country with this, her début CD release. Far from being "just another angry young woman with a guitar", though, Maddie belongs more to the Kate Bush (and possibly Suzanne Vega) ambit, writing sensitively and often mellowly on issues that are drawn from personal experience yet despite their intensity of feeling are couched in an accessible musical language. Maddie has a superb voice, with a clear timbre and a good expressive range, breathy and yet well controlled, (the Kate Bush connection again - a feeling hard to escape on listening to tracks like But Very Natural). She also plays piano, keyboards and harmonica, and has made sympathetic and mature arrangements for her songs, employing guitars, drums and occasionally cello in textures which at times display an almost classical purity. Even so, I'll admit that I started off finding a few of the early tracks a touch bland, at any rate musically, in comparison with some of the later ones, and there were occasions when I felt that the rather special qualities of her lyrics perhaps deserved more distinctive melodies than they're given. But subsequent, closer listens in a more leisurely or relaxed environment revealed further felicities, and I've been forced to revise that opinion somewhat. (And there's actually a lot more variety in the musical settings and approaches than just listening to the initial tracks might suggest.) Think maybe more of the contented glow you get sitting comfortably in front of a fire, thoughtfully reflecting on memories and evocations arising within and out of the flames… This album has quality stamped all over it, make no mistake, even though its very classiness may evade those listeners who have come to expect a more obviously and immediately striking musical landscape as a backdrop for songs of comparable depth and philosophical good taste. I ended up being well and truly won over, in fact." David Kidman, Net Rhythms
"Music plays softly in the background. A lilting voice sings of snowmen and relationships with a knowledge that comes through in song. Such is the magic of Maddie Southorn's delightful album 'Unlikely Prom Queen'. There is a maturity in this music that speaks to anyone who has been in love, who has been a child, who has believed in the gods.
Take, for example, the song 'Snowman'. the title makes it sound like the song will be about a childhood winter hobby, when it is actually a comment on the iciness at the end of a relationship. She says: "He'll leave you too early in the morning...never trust a snowman, the snowman is melting." Instead of a commentary on the wonders of childhood, the song actually focuses on the end of love. It also acknowledges the mistrust we have of love each and every time a relationship ends.
Or take the song 'Childhood'; at its core it is indeed about childhood. But at the same time, the song is also about the home of our hearts and how we must accept it, no matter where we came from. Home made us what we are, and what we will become.
At a first listen, you might just write off 'Unlikely Prom Queen' as lounge music, but it is more than that. It has depth and heart. Behind this album is a fire that is carefully banked, but felt in the words and the in the music. Each song is like a double-edged knife that speaks of Southorn's familiarity with herself and what she holds inside.
The arrangements, including cello, guitar and keyboard, are kept simple so that the music seems to flow out of the speakers, filling in all that background silence with a soft warm light. We are inclined to listen to what Southorn has to say. She seems to be the voice of wisdom.
This is a beautiful, wonderful album and a whimsical look at what anyone can achieve with what is carried inside. It is a personal, almost autobiographical, look at an artist. I thank Maddie Southorn for sharing her private musings with us; I am indebted to her for sharing her thoughts, her words and her wisdom." Green Man Review
"What a treat this one is - a beautifully produced balance of up-close and personal lyrics and some lovely arrangements of piano and strings. This is an album to sit down and listen to at your leisure, it is well worth your attention." Women in Tune