Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In today’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be taking a sneak peek at ‘Oronoque,’ the new four-track EP from Lucas Maddy, a Kansas-based countryman. He describes his sound as original Kansas country, a sound he’s crafted since he was fourteen and writing lyrics with a dry erase marker on the windows of tractors. He’s every bit the homegrown, rootsy artist that you’d think he’d be, but with a contemporary flare.
If Maddy’s got anything, he’s got a great voice for country. He sounds like the best of the performers on the CMA’s, but there’s a bit more of a dirty growl to his voice that I really dig. ‘Losers’ introduces Maddy with fierce force. The lyrics are actually remarkably insightful and creative, taking a deep look at the environment he grew up in. His town ‘is a prison.’ I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate the instrumentation backing Maddy. Organs, tight percussion, and searing guitar solos differentiate the Lucas Maddy and the Jagged Edge from your cookie-cutter Americana country.
‘Tonight is Your Night’ continues Maddy’s creative lyricism and wit with a beautiful song dedicated to his youngest sister. Again, I adore the backing band. In particular, I love how the typical country stereotypes aren’t employed. (At least, not as in-your-face as they can be.) If you’re a regular reader here on the Spotlight, you’ve read my rants about how template-based and uncreative modern country can be. Maddy and company defy that stigma quite well.
‘4440’ adds a harmonious string section Maddy’s ensemble. As good as that band is, however, they’re just a vehicle for his lyrics at the end of the day. Each of these songs tells a story. Sometimes they’re Maddy’s, sometimes they aren’t. They’re inspired by the world around him and they’re surprisingly impactful.
‘Bro Country’ closes out the album with the most intense number in the collection. For a good party/rodeo song, it’s perfect. I have to admit, though, it’s an ending I could do without since it isn’t lyricism nearly on the same level as the previous three tunes. With that said, I recognize the need to have a fiery, romping dance song. That’s exactly what ‘Bro Country’ is.
Again, readers of the Spotlight will know my despise for so much contemporary country, and I’m one of the biggest country fans around. I love older country, vintage country, and well-written country. Maddy’s efforts on ‘Oronoque’ satisfy my requisites for quality country in spades. The album feels less like contemporary country and more like Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska.’ It tells some great stories and it’s worth your time when he releases it.