Singer/songwriter Madison Cunningham takes a literate, harmonically nuanced approach to folk and pop music. She first grabbed attention performing around Los Angeles in 2017, the same year she issued her debut EP, Love, Lose, Remember. Expanding upon her textured, sometimes jazz-inflected indie folk, her first full-length, Who Are You Now, arrived in 2019. A native of Costa Mesa, California, Cunningham was introduced to the guitar at age seven and grew up singing along with her four sisters in church, where her father was a worship pastor. By her teens, she was performing regularly as well as writing her own songs, drawing inspiration from artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Buckley. In 2017, she recorded her debut EP, Love, Lose, Remember, with producer Tyler Chester (Blake Mills, Sara Watkins), following up in early 2018 with the EP For the Sake of the Rhyme. Those records, along with regular shows in Los Angeles and opening spots on tour with Punch Brothers, helped widen her audience. She soon signed with Verve Forecast and began appearing regularly as a bandmember on the Chris Thile-hosted public radio show Live from Here. A slot at the Newport Folk Festival preceded the August 2019 release of her debut album for Verve, the Chester-produced Who Are You Now. The album was nominated in the Best Americana Album category of the 62nd annual Grammy awards.
© Matt Collar /TiVo
© Matt Collar /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 16, 2019 | Verve Forecast
Is this really 2019? If so, then Madison Cunningham must have been frozen in cryosleep in the mid-seventies and brought back to life four decades later. With Who Are You Now, this 22-year-old Californian releases a debut album of surprising mastery and maturity. While influenced by her predecessors Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Fiona Apple and even Feist, Cunningham never loses the vision of her own songs and personal sound. Her retro sound is therefore balanced on this record with a resolute timelessness. Brought up in a family of five girls, she picked up her first guitar when she was 7 and sang in church with her family at 12. She listened to other artists but mostly wrote and composed her own songs. It’s difficult to not be blown away by her lyricism; the tormented soul of a wandering old lady on an unstable path of sheer emotion. How many lives has this young musician who has opened shows the likes of the Punch Brothers, Andrew Bird, Amos Lee, Iron & Wine and even Calexico lived? With disillusioned, exacting confidence, an unforgiving feminist cry, Madison Cunningham is a folk-rock sovereign here to last. A true revelation. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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