Having previously heard the title track from this collaborative project from Sweden’s Acousticmaddie and the UK’s own Pete Murphy, there existed within me a vague expectation or idea of what the full length project might be like. Following its release, The Introduction alone effectively re-sets those expectations, and the album in full seeks and succeeds to blow them out of the water completely.
Despite the newness, you can indeed still quite clearly hear that creative reach, those familiar vocals, that particular pathway of thinking that is the Acousticmaddie form of artistry, and as things grow – the Pete Murphy level of rhythm and colour makes its way beautifully into the collection. This is an unpredictable fusion of talents and energy, bringing together two of 2018’s most unique artists, resulting in a project that’s on some other level entirely.
Humans kicks off the full-throttle vibrancy of the collab – the ideas, the projection, the contrast between the two voices and their ways of expressing that inner passion. It’s melodic, rhythmic, dark, provocative, and refreshingly unusual. The Hole I’ve Been Digging furthers the colour and perhaps more accessibly satisfying musicality of the project. There’s a big band feel here and some superb story-telling. Murphy’s voice is on point, and the set-up of the whole track has an entrancingly theatrical, soulful aura about it. A total early highlight that redirects the experience in a mighty way.
Follow Or Lead sees the indie-rock, anthemic energy rise higher. Awesome riffs add a dash of infectious heavy metal, and again, in stark contrast with the weight, the melody line and Pete’s performance carry things with emotion and integrity. The collaborative aspect shows itself in a subtle but quite hypnotic way. It’s like uplifting grunge or strangely joyful hard rock. Dead Inside follows and reassess the mood yet again, something of an Americana vibe overtakes – though the classic indie-rock guitars remain, and the big-band-beat. The mellow verses captivate, Murphy’s performance seems to grow stronger and stronger. The song has certain characteristics that really make it linger in your mind after listening.
Despite the dark and potentially eerie topics touched upon throughout this album, the music is always either energizing or reflectively real and calming. Devil Angel Doll is really well-placed within the collection, the acoustic delicacy and Maddie’s smoother, husky whisper of a leading vocal offers up poetic observations and personal emotions that reach out during the spacious moments to really grab your attention. Dead Philosophy follows with a brilliant musical set-up. This cinematic soundscape is perfectly effective after the softness that preceded it. The detail and intricacy here is fascinating, really impressive production and what evolves to be a quickly addictive song with a stunning melodic progression.
Bed Of Blood is an intriguing piece of music that showcases a dramatic contrast between verse and chorus. The thick, almost Audioslave-like hook section hits with impact and makes for yet another totally immersive piece of music that’s easy to return to three or four times in a row. The lyrics throughout this album seem incomparable and new, yet they connect in some unforeseeable way – it feels like the writers have tuned into something we’ve all thought about or considered or witnessed, but that we haven’t been able to put into words. Of course there’s a specific story to it all, but with the imagery and the personal touch – the ‘I’ – it becomes about you, the listener; which is where great music makes its most powerful waves.
Contrast works its magic again for the penultimate song of the project, Hear How Sirius Holler. The raw acoustic ambience, the whispered vocal, the mention of the government and the strings that hold humanity; the song is instantly intriguing and appealing in so many ways, and this continues to be true more and more so as the music pours through. You start to form your own potential explanations of the collective concept of Kissing Spiders.
Humans (Acoustic) brings things softly to an end, though it’s a big finish, conceptually and emotionally – it feels loaded with possibility, despite the apparent fear and feelings of being lost expressed by the lyrics. The Distillers come to mind for not the first time in Maddie’s performance style and melodic development. Once more, this one is easy to have on repeat. The melody varies so much throughout, the moment has been fully utilised to express its ideas and to captivate an audience using only words, human emotion, and an acoustic guitar. It seems like a totally different song to that which came before. It feels intimate and honest. It’s interesting to hear the two artists – who seem so very different from one another – access the same moment of artistry. I’ll be checking back in with this project more than a few times in the near future, for sure. This is creativity at its most freely meandering and thoughtful.
Download the album via Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify. Find & follow Pete Murphy on Facebook & Twitter. Visit his Website for more information. Find & follow Acousticmaddie on Facebook & Twitter. Visit her Website for more information.