Madam - Gone Before Morning - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Madam - Gone Before Morning

by Priscilla Eyles Rating:8 Release Date:2011-05-09

Sukie Smith who produced and wrote this second album (after 2008's In Case Of Emergency) under the name Madam, was a onetime TV actress so it's lucky for us that she decided to make music instead, as well as give this album a proper release (it was originally released on a download only mailing list) because this album has a cinematic noir/Western gothic feel, aided by her new six-piece band, which is infectious and beguiling, and which grows on you the more you listen. It also has a feel that could be categorised with some of the current crop of female guitar-based singers like Karen Elson and Anna Calvi, as well as PJ Harvey (particularly in songs like 'The Snake'), Cat Power, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Chris Isaacs.

The songs are filled with lamentations for lost loves, stories of dangerous snakes and murder and intimations of criminal deeds. While Smith's fragile voice is not as powerful as someone like PJ Harvey, Smith really lives and breathes the songs (acting may have come in handy in his instance), filled as it with regret, weariness and sadness but also a quiet authority akin to Suzanne Vega. Stately opener and slow builder 'You Lead I Follow' sets the tone with Smith acting the neglected lover, pleading with her lover to save her and fearing that she's losing her mind. It's also filled with some lush slide guitar work from John Robertson. Second track 'The Ground Will Claim You' is a definite highlight with its sinister electric guitar riff and it's lyrics about the inevitability of falling. After this, 'The Snake' is even better and has that sensual/dark Bring Me Your Love era PJ Harvey feel with Rid of Me/Dry style lyrics with its references to Adam and Eve. There is also great use of the double bass here which adds to its loungey, hazy sensual feel. It is certainly the most immediately likeable track on the album, where most of the other tracks take a few listens to get into.

Other highlights include 'Someone in Love' which tells the tale of an angry vengeful lover and 'Marine Boy' with it's dark tale of intended murder, great rimshot percussion, creepy cello line and gradual build. It's a song that encapsulates the power music has to create a particular atmosphere and which you could imagine being used in a film by someone like David Lynch.

This album then is not for the impatient or for those looking for a dance but once you give it time you'll uncover a true gem, one that certainly deserves greater recognition.

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