Madam - Gone Before Morning
This album begins with the disarmingly soft, inviting opener 'You Lead I Follow' which evokes hazy, cello-inflected Mazzy Star loveliness; however, when Madam herself, Sukie Smith, soothingly delivers the lyric "out of the dark you came", the listener might be caught unawares as they themselves are drawn into the shadowy rabbit hole. The hinted, lurking darkness comes to the fore throughout a debut that will win over anyone who likes their charismatic frontwomen carrying songs that conjure elements of rock, folk and seductive soul - while dressed head to toe in black, of course. Originally receiving a low-key release last year after catching Peter Gabriel's ear, Smith and her band are back to enchant listeners anew one year on.
It's a shame the album didn't attract more attention upon its original release, as this is a slow burn find that commands attention. Draw the curtains for a late night listen, preferably in the company of red wine and someone at ease hearing your deepest secrets, and press play. Gone Before Morning occupies the same shady, smoky corner as darkly soulful records such as Howling Bells and Moon Pix. As well as Cat Power, there are nods to other great female figures from days gone by: close your eyes and hear whispers of Nico on 'Tar And Serpents', which manages to sound both unerringly pleasant and beautifully melancholic at the same time, while the Hope Sandoval part is played effectively elsewhere, but with an added sting in the tail courtesy of alluring single 'Weekend Love'. Despite eliciting comparisons to so many captivating female singer/songwriters, this certainly stands alone as a compelling listen that more than merits the re-release. Good luck if you can shake this one with the light of morning.