James Madden could’ve been anything. He could’ve been a comedy actor, or a race car driver. But instead, he is a musician. He has many high accolades in the world of music. He already has a fantastic solo album out, Same Day As Yesterday. I was once given this on vinyl as a birthday present and when I saw it I had a big fat grin on my face. This should give you some indication of my feelings towards the album, rather than a numerical score.
And that’s not all! He’s played lots of gigs too. I’ve seen some of them, and I’ve witnessed that now infamous moment where, in the last track of the set, he rips off his shirt and knee-slides through the crowd. Many a tear has been shed in these final moments of his live shows. He also replaced Adam Lambert (who replaced Freddie Mercury) in the band Queen, although, somehow, this has gone largely unnoticed.
His latest track, ‘Dawn’, is another remarkable entry into his musical oeuvre (French for ‘songs’). It opens with the chirping of birds and the listing of things. It is drenched in nostalgia and non-gratuitous sentimentality. Madden describes his home by pointing out seemingly insignificant details (“Auf Wiedersehen, Pet/On the television set”, “Carpeted floors/Photographs on the walls/All the things that remind me of home”) but the longing in his voice for these simpler times is tangible.
Initially starting with just piano, the instrumentation builds into something epic as the track goes on. The chorus is cathartic and shimmering (“We were lucky/For a while/Each Summertime”) however in the song's second half it seems to move away from nostalgia and towards hope. With the frequent refrain of “All the things that remind me of home” turning into “All the things that could happen now” we see James Madden morph from a butterfly, go into a cocoon and come out as an even bigger and more beautiful butterfly.
In the end, James Madden will inevitably go down in history as the man who stopped the Unabomber, but for the time being, we can all sit back and enjoy the wonderful music he is prepared to make for us.
‘Dawn’ is out now, and J. Madden will also be playing a Future Yard on the 30th October.