Bill Madden – Child of the Same God

So, a few weeks ago, Diana from MADMUSE got in touch with me to let me know that they were sending me a pre-release copy of Bill Madden‘s new album, “Child of the Same God”. (Sidenote: I love it when overseas agencies don’t mind paying the international postage and send original copies all the way to Australia. It gives me the warm and fuzzies.)
Anyway, sure enough, a week or two later, “Child of the Same God” landed on my doorstep… and I’ve pretty much been playing it non-stop since then. It’s that good.

Bill Madden - Child of the Same God

Now, I’ll be honest; I hadn’t heard much of Bill Madden before Diana got in touch with me. But according to the release that was sent along with the album, Madden is an “activist musician, who’s work is often described at alternative folk“. To be honest, I wouldn’t personally place Bill Madden in the alt.folk scene… at least, not in the sense that regular readers around these parts would expect. But activist? Most certainly. You only have to take one look at his website to see that he wears that side of himself on his sleeve, and it’s certainly reflected in the tunes that appear on “Child of the Same God”.

From the album’s opening track of “Unfair”, it’s clear that Bill Madden is an artist that has something to say… and that outspokeness is continued through each and every song on the album. To some, I can see that being a hindrance; after all, it’s not an “easy” album. That said, those who leave it with a single initial listen are missing out… “Child of the Same God” is the quintessential “replay” album – the more you listen to it, the more it grows on you. In that respect (and also in individual songs, such as “Empire”), Madden strongly recalls – for me, at least – hints of another Burgo Blog favourite, Gregory Page. And those who have read this blog in the past would know that I mean that as high praise indeed.

Overall, the album is really a mixture of poetry, activism, and plain ol’ awesome music… and one that I would highly suggest.
The one thing that makes it hard to review and album such as this is Madden’s sheer versatility: there’s some rock in there, some minimalist tunes, some b;ues-influenced, and even some reggae rythyms in there.

Luckily, MADMUSE has given me permission to post a few songs on here as tasters, so I decided to go with three tunes: the opening track, “Unfair”, title track “Child of the Same God”, and “Bosko and Admira”.
“Unfair” opens the album with the unforgettable lines “Old soul, It’s a slipping down life“… but goes on to proclaim Bill Madden’s ultimate message of fighting optimism, with the refrain:

“Listen to your heart
And follow
The road less travelled
Listen to the voice
But beware
Life can seem unfair”
– Bill Madden, “Unfair”

Listen: Bill Madden – Unfair

Title track “Child of the Same God” is perhaps the most accessible of the album’s tracks in terms of mainstream usability; but it doesn’t let up Madden’s questioning of our society for one second. It’s a cracking tune, and one who’s calm strings belie an anger and grief bubbling below the surface.

“Why do we indulge
These messengers of fear
And meekly capitulate
As our freedom disappears
What’s going on
When it’s you against me
Voices of reason
Their silence is deafening
May God’s grace guide our way
May God’s grace guide our way
We’re all one
Child of the same God”
– Bill Madden, “Child of the Same God”

Listen: Bill Madden – Child of the Same God

The final tune I’m including below is perhaps the most narrative-driven of all the songs on the album: “Bosko and Admira”, which tells the tale of the “Sarajevo Romeo and Juliet” (who you can learn more about here)
It’s a haunting tale, and one you should read.

“On the banks of the river
Forbidden love and
Blood run together
Forbidden love and
Blood run together
Ah, I hear the children play
Ah, Sarajevo Serenade
Ah…”
– Bill Madden, “Bosko and Admira”

Listen: Bill Madden – Bosko and Admira

Ultimately, the lyrics above really don’t do justice to Madden’s music; you have to hear him singing these songs, voice cracking with conviction and passion to truly understand the album. And I suggest you do.
Bill Madden’s “Child of the Same God” is due out Oct 14.

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One Comment

  1. Mick
    September 29, 2008
    Reply

    Not my usual cuppa, but that “Unfair” song is wicked.

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