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Madison Violet Madison Violet
Album: The Knight Sessions
Label: Big Lake Music
Tracks: 11

One of the biggest selling albums last year was "Cartwheels" from Country influenced duo Ward Thomas. I would suggest that if you enjoyed that offering, you will most certainly enjoy this one too from Madison Violet.

This Canadian duo comprises Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac who met in Toronto in 1999 and have been making superb music ever since. It is almost impossible to pigeon hole this duo. Their music has been described as pop, roots, indie, dance and Americana, and it probably encompasses all of those, but I think it leans more towards modern country as much as any of the aforementioned.

Their voices are perfectly matched resulting in some memorable harmonies. The album is a mix of previously recorded songs now updated mixed with some new ones thrown in for good measure, all primarily played in an acoustic fashion allowing the voices to be the main focus of the music. Both Brenley and Lisa are multi instrumentalists who seem to go together like fish and chips. Both voices have that ability to drive the music along or be soft and gentle when required in equal measures. A touch of blue grass combined with the delightful acoustic guitar work combine to lift this album way above the many average offerings that are being distributed these days.

They describe themselves as singer-songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, harmonizers, dog lovers, nature walkers, painters, tennis fanatics, amateur chefs, so I am not sure when they find time to produce their music. They have however found time to receive a number of accolades and awards worldwide all of which based on this album are well justified.

Listen to the opening track "We Are Famous" and if you like it, you will probably like the rest of it too. It sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow and includes a delightful bit of mandolin backing. Brenley's, at times, slightly gruff voice is perfect for many of the songs, best typified in "Same Sun" with the balanced somewhat softer harmonies from Lisa. This song could have come straight from The Corrs stable. One of the songs that most surprised me is a fabulous version of the children's' nursery rhyme "Hush." I cannot recall hearing a better version of this song with its fiddle and organ accompaniment. "Trouble" is a particular favourite of mine with the close knit harmony and acoustic guitar matching in perfect synchronicity with a delightful middle section played on the fiddle. The final track is a bit of a disco version of the second track on the album, "These Ships." I hope they are not offended when I say I prefer the acoustic version. They probably had great fun doing it but I feel it reduces their music to a basic form of pop when it is really so much more than that.

Despite being together for nineteen years, it is fair to say that Madison Violet have not received the recognition in the UK that their music and abilities deserve. They are commencing a UK tour in Belfast on the 7th May finishing in London on the 19th May. Based on this album, I think I can guarantee an evening of quality harmonising vocals, wonderful lyrics and sublime understated backing. This is a duo to look out for and appreciate!

Rory Stanbridge