Thursday, 18 July 2013

Madison Violet - Come As You Are - Live True North Records

Twice in 2012, an opportunity to finally catch Canadian folk/roots duo Madison Violet live was thwarted. First inclement weather made a journey to Ross–on-Wye inadvisable then their late summer tour was curtailed for family reasons leaving a gap in their Shrewsbury Folk Festival slot admirably filled by Emily Barker. However twelve months later there is some compensation in the release of this live record that while not fully replicating the experience of being there does give a flavour of how the songs come across in their shows.

COME AS YOU ARE – LIVE was recorded in Germany, to be precise at the Kulturkirche in Koln, and features sixteen previously recorded Madison Violet tunes plus a cover of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ to conclude the recording. While existing fans of the duo will instantly connect with the beautiful harmonies, authentic sound and gratifying songs, this record is tailor-made to quickly weave its magic around new unsuspecting ears and leave its indelible mark.

Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are the performers responsible for the listening pleasure that over the last decade has evolved from Madviolet to Madison Violet exporting the fruits of their talent from Toronto to a wider world especially Europe and the UK. The accolades and acclaims have been steadily accumulating in the last four years mainly due to their latest two albums released on the True North Records label. Of the seventeen tracks captured live for this new release, twelve have been lifted from 2009’s NO FOOL FOR TRYING and 2011’s THE GOOD IN GOODBYE. While existing fans will have to decide whether they want to re-invest in these songs, albeit in a different format, the exceptional quality of the live recording will make this album a perfect opportunity for new listeners to sample a taste of what Madison Violet are all about.

Photo credit - Nikki Ormerod
In contrast to the other live album recently released by similar Canadian act, the Good Lovelies, COME AS YOU ARE – LIVE is all about the music as opposed to the between song stories and banter which was an integral part of the other’s record. Therefore the serving from Madison Violet is virtually wall to wall songs starting with the award winning ‘The Ransom’ before proceeding through a wealth of tunes showcasing their talent to write, sing and play an abundance of bewitching and alluring songs. The highlights are many but from a personal perspective they don’t come much better than ‘Cindy Cindy’, ‘Small of Your Heart’ and ‘No Fool for Trying’.

You often get positive reports from US and Canadian artists on how enthusiastic European audiences are, in particular the German trait of participating in zestful clapping. Having heard several recent stories, my ears were alerted to this occurring at certain points on the record. However this appetite makes the continental market an important one for touring artists to conquer as well as making frequent visits to the old country.

The good news is Madison Violet are returning to the UK in October for a number of dates when no doubt many of these songs can be heard in person and maybe some clues to what the future holds. So for me it may be third time lucky but in the meantime COME AS YOU ARE – LIVE is an enjoyable alternative that will unreservedly appeal to both new and old Madison Violet fans. 

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