CD Review: Madeline Finn “Colerain Mansion”

From the first time when I was in the audience for a three-song performance of Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Madeline Finn, I knew that the singer/guitarist had talent. She would release her first CD entitled X Waters not that long after that performance. X Waters and the follow-up entitled Greenhouse show off not only her musical abilities, but also the abilities of those musicians who helped to create the band The Whiskey Hollow. It was The Whiskey Hollow that was responsible for creating the music found on the two EPs of music. And with X Waters and Greenhouse, the Greater Cleveland area would come to know the true talent of the musical artist known as Madeline Finn.

While the last few years have seen Finn fronting her band called The Whiskey Hollow, she has also spent time on stage in solo settings. With those solo performances, people got to experience the singer-songwriter on more up close and personal opportunities. The solo setting of those performances must have been rather influential because Madeline Finn has just released a six-song release called Colerain Mansion. With this new release, a new side of Madeline Finn can be heard as each of the six songs have been created in much more intimate settings with Finn and her guitar being joined by only one or two other instruments on each track.

Colerain Mansion from Madeline Finn sets the singer-songwriter in a much different musical setting than the previous releases from her band The Whiskey Hollow. With The Whiskey Hollow, Finn and the rest of the band create music that falls into the Rock/Alternative Rock genre. But with the release of Colerain Mansion, the style Finn adopts is closer to something to would have been produced by the likes of Liz Phair or Ani Difranco.

But as Finn’s music has been a favorite for followers of musicians like those already mentioned, it should come as no surprise that she would follow in the direction. And in following in that direction, the new solo material by Madeline Finn is a lot more Folk-based than Rock and Roll-based. But that most definitely does not mean the new direction comes with less energy than Finn’s previously released music.

Colerain Mansion from Madeline Finn begins with the track “The River”. The sound of a babbling brook at the very beginning of the track is immediately followed by Finn’s acoustic guitar and her vocals. The soft, easy feel of the music is thanks to the Folk influence on the track. The lyrics of the song have Finn finding peace as she listens to the sound of the water as it flows by her. The addition of the drums in the music helps to give the track a lot of energy with still allowing the track to keep its easy feel to the pace of the music.

On the next track of the EP, Madeline Finn creates one of the strongest moments of the release. The song “Win the Girl” is a track about fighting for the one you love when someone else is trying to make a move for them. The lyrics of the song bring to mind the same sort of feeling that is present in the song of “Jolene” from Dolly Parton as both songs deal with the situation of what would happen if the one being fought over decides to choose the second person. The combination of the acoustic guitar and the organ on the track make for a strong track with a very commercial appeal to it. “Win the Girl” is the first song on the six-song EP from Madeline Fin that feels ready-made for radio airplay. It also has the right feel to become a fan favorite if given the chance.

The new solo release from Madeline Finn continues with the song “Virgo”. The acoustic guitar and Madeline Finn’s vocals create the song’s make up as the simplicity of the song is what makes the track so powerful. The intimacy of the track’s feel hooks the listener and refuses to let them go. As Madeline Finn sings about contemplating certain aspects of life on the track, one of the things that stand out in the song is the intensity of the guitar. While the song is relatively low-key, Finn does show off her musical ability in the way she increases the tension in the music with louder passages from time to time. With the simplicity of only Madeline Finn’s vocals and guitar, “Virgo” ends up being one track that seems to be the perfect track to show off her abilities as a musician and a songwriter.

As most of the Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn contains simply the voice of Finn and her acoustic guitar, there is very little feel between one song and another when the tracks have that same simplistic feel. So, one track on the release contains a slightly different feel to it as a way of separating it from the rest of the EP. The track “When It’s Dark” begins with the sound of scratches that makes the song feel as if it were being played off of an old record. And in the tinny feel of the music and vocals and the result is a track that sounds as if it is being played the lone speaker of an old Victorola phonograph machine. The vintage feel of the song definitely sets the track apart from the rest of the release.

Speaking of being played through an old vintage record player: The next track of “Uke Song” is yet another track that contains a vintage feel to the song. The tinny feel to the vocals from Madeline Finn and the rest of the vocalists who add to the feel of the song mixes well with the use of the ukulele. The result is a track that feels as if it could have been created at the turn of the nineteenth century as we entered the 1900’s. The track feels as if it could have been slid out of the sleeve of an old 78 RPM record album to be played on a music player from the same time period.

Madeline Finn brings her new solo release of Colerain Mansion to a close with the title track of the EP. “Colerain Mansion” is a track that acts as a tribute to a house located in Pennsylvania that has been placed on the National Register of Historical Places. The lyrics to the track talk about acknowledging and understanding the things that help make the world what it is. The track of “Colerain Mansion” is easily the most produced track on the six-song EP. Along with the vocals from Madeline Finn, the track also includes the electric guitar, percussion and other elements to bring the song to life. After an album of rather sparse tracks, Madeline Finn brings the release to a close with the most musically complicated of the tracks.    

The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn continues the singer-songwriter’s string of releases that show off her musical abilities and her talent as a singer-songwriter, as well. While the previous releases of X Waters and Greenhouse gave the listener a good idea of what Finn could do with a band, the six tracks that make up the release show what she can do on her own. But as those of us who have seen her perform within a group and by herself can tell you, that’s not a surprise. The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn may be the most laidback of the three releases she has created, but the music contained within it will easily leave you stunned by the beauty it contains.

 

For more information, check out the song “Win the Girl” from Madeline Finn. 

To purchase a copy of The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn, click on the album cover below:

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