“The sun hasn’t set on this boy yet”
-- Nils Lofgren
There’s a million ways to say you’re not giving up and James Maddock has found a dozen of them on his decade in the making return, Sunrise on Avenue C.
His 1999 debut, Songs From Stamford Hill, under the nom de stage of Wood, was an americana-centric collection of lovelorn pop, highlighted by the Triple A hit “Stay You”, which was featured in several TV shows and landed on the first Dawson’s Creek compilation. It appeared that Maddock was headed for stardom, and then life happened. A follow-up to Stamford Hill was recorded and not released, he got married and divorced, moved to New York City and was ultimately dropped by his record label, Columbia Records. End of story, right? No sir.
James Maddock is back with an exquisitely crafted song cycle of ruminations on the promise of love and the creative spark, the courtship of his muse (“I may not say much but I mean every word”) and the uncertainty that plagues the lover and the writer. Alternately buoyant and melancholy, Sunrise on Avenue C is a cozy marriage of Ben Folds cracked piano ballads and Bruce Springsteen’s melodic romanticism.
The album opens with “Chance”, a bouncy call-to-arms that announces he’s back in the game (“I’ve got nothing, with you I’m something, I think you’d call it a chance”), followed by a trio of declarative love songs that shows budding commitment to women, words and The City (“Ain’t you gotta kiss for me / the Village is a symphony / where else would you want to be”). Next up is song of the summer contender “When The Suns Out”, whose infectious chorus has been stuck in my head for weeks, and captures the maddeningly fleeting elation of a perfect day.
Maddock’s gift here is making the everyday memorable, catching all aspects of a relationship in deftly worded short stories, and delivering good, old fashioned songs – well produced (the judicious use of strings sweetens a few tracks), loaded with strong melodies and a real beginning and an open-ended ending in album closer “Together”. Will this relationship work? No one’s saying, but it feels like there’s more to the story because the sun hasn’t set on this boy yet.
James Maddock will be appearing Wednesday, September 9th, at The Tin Angel in Philadelphia for a cd release party.
Sunrise on Avenue C is out now on Ascend Records and available from amazon.com, cdbaby, itunes and Main Street Music in Manayunk (215-487-7732).
James Maddock - "Chance"
James Maddock - "When The Suns Out"
Wood - "Stay You"
Nils Lofgren - "The Sun Hasn't Set on This Boy Yet"