Revealer by Madison Cunningham for Northern Transmissions by Greg Walker

Verve Forecast

9.3

Madison Cunningham

Revealer

“I’m not the only one / putting a bruised ego on some ice / But if love is our rebellion / put me on the front lines,” Madison Cunningham sings with humility and resolve on her much anticipated latest record, Revealer, which dropped on Sept 9th on Verve Forecast Records. I found Madison Cunningham when I was surfing Facebook and saw a promoted post for her cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” and I was enamored by her beautiful simplified rendition with pianist Tyler Chester. I was further hooked, when my local radio station, WTMD, played her single “Hospital” on repeat. And her Tiny Desk in August just sealed the deal.

It was a fitting introduction to her work, the cover of “No Surprises,” because, as her lead track, “All I’ve Ever Known” illustrates, she’s a songwriter in Radiohead’s mind-blowing ilk. The noodling guitars, the polyrhythms, the perfect York-like serpentine falsetto vocals. “I’m not immune to a piece of bad news / I just do what I must to move on,” she sings on the track. And the rest of the album is her reckoning with this difficult world, her “revealing” of a heart that understands loss and love, humor and heartbreak.

“Walking after dark / Holding tight to my keys / You don’t give a second though / Walking where you please,” she sings on the song, “Anywhere,” which starts in 7/4. It is a subtle lyric revealing her position as a woman in modern times, though the song is an anthem for anyone who has to actually work for their position in a world set up for certain people (White? Male? Rich?) to always take home the winning prize. “I work hard / Just to get through / And I’m jealous thinking / It comes easy to you.”

If there’s any justice in this world, Madison Cunningham will take home the Grammy for best alternative record next year. I’m not one to favor one race or gender over another, though I love seeing fair representation. It’s just that this album is the best thing that I’ve heard for quite some time. With a musical virtuosity like Esperanza Spalding, with a song writer and composer who deserves a McCartney-Lennon comparison, the album, lyrically and musically is an absolute revelation.

From the moving song about losing her grandmother, “Life According to Rachel,” (something many of us can relate to in these pandemic times,) to her song “Your Hate Could Power A Train,” with a chorus that could be directed at any number of people in our tumultuous and often careless society, she writes songs that relate to exactly where we are now. She relates to us all in ingenious poetry and sound. It’s an album, like a Radiohead album, to play and replay, and I think it will be an album that is looked back at in many years to come, as a moment in musical history when a young woman fought for love, creatively.

Order Revealer by Madison Cunningham HERE