No Fool For Trying

Madison Violet

True North, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


I recently received some promotional material from Madison Violet, and it contained one of the best opening sentences I have ever read describing a new album release: “If Lucinda Williams were shagging Gillian Welch and had a love child with Steve Earle, their offspring might sound a little bit like Madison Violet’s new album No Fool For Trying.” You’ve got to love it.

Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are Canadians who formed Madison Violet in 1999. This is their third album release, following 2004’s Worry The Jury my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 and 2006’s Caravan. They are well-known in their native country, having received four East Coast Music Award nominations and a 2008 Canadian Folk Award nomination for Best Vocal Group.

They have been road warriors for the past decade, opening for such acts as the Indigo Girls and Ron Sexsmith while touring throughout Europe, Australia, and North America. This constant touring has served them well, as their sound is well-honed and they seem to have a clear musical vision.

Every once in awhile, an independent release truly shines – and this is one of those occasions. MacEachern and MacIsaac are able to produce crystal-clear harmonies. If ever two voices were made to join together, these are it. While individually, they are very good, the sum is better than the parts.

The second thing Madison Violet has going for them is their songwriting abilities (they wrote ten of the eleven tracks on this disc). Their stories are thoughtful, well-crafted, and exhibit sensitivity. Themes of loss, desire, and regret all succumb to their gentle musical treatment.

Their sound can be described as alternative country or folk, although given the lyrics, I feel that if they stripped back to the basics, they would come close to traditional folk. Fiddles, mandolin, the use of an upright bass, solid drumming, and occasional electric guitars all support their basic acoustic foundation.

The eleven tracks have continuity to them and flow together well. Standouts include the title track, “The Ransom,” “Lauralee,” “Baby In The Black & White,” and “Time And Tide,” all of which take the listener on a thoughtful journey.

Hopefully, No Fool For Trying will garner Madison Violet some well-deserved publicity and commercial success outside of their native Canada.

Rating: B+

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of True North, and is used for informational purposes only.