Maradeen is a Nashville-based rock band made up of Whit Murray (guitar), Kaitlyn Connor (keyboard), Sterling Miller (bass), Thomas Galloway (vocals), and John Rodrigue (drums). The group weaves genres and melodies into variegated tapestries of sound. Maradeen released their second album, Above the Horizon, in October. I gave it a listen this morning.
“Deal with the Devil” opens with bare percussion, like a meaty skeleton, and builds gradually, allowing the guitar to season the simmering mix, as the lyrics address the fine line between good and evil that we all must walk. If this album were a Mondrian, the next track would the color on the other side of the thick black line. Acoustic guitar meets airy vocals in “Livin’ for the Weekend.” The song appeals to people in landlocked states who spend their working hours doing things they’d rather not do. Necessity is a bitch, sometimes.
“Lost in a Dream” feels like roller skating under the unearthly glow of a black light. The song flows gracefully, each part guiding the whole into the next. Listening to this track shifts one’s vision into Instagram filter mode. In an explosion of country sound, “Like a River” evokes the tried and true comparison of love to a river. (Refer to that early episode of Roseanne in which Dan Connor enters a songwriting contest with a poem featuring the same comparison.) Aside from the lyrics, there is some electrifying guitar to be enjoyed.
With a title like “Back When the West Was Mine,” you know you’re in for an epic. The track opens with telling chords and soon develops into a Claptonesque interaction between vocals and guitar. Vocals are delivered, at times, with the same devil-may-care attitude of Tom Waits. The keyboard goes well with the sense of nostalgia imbued by the lyrics. The break takes a modern tinge, slowly shifting into more of a black leather sound, heavy on guitar, before slingshotting out into the land of guitar solo reverie. “Let You Be My Man” features Kaitlyn on vocals, a stark stylistic contrast from Whit’s drawl. Persistent percussion and optimistic chords make “Let You Be My Man” an expansive track, reined in by restrained vocals. I wonder how different the song would be, were the vocals delivered with more power. The lyrical content lends the song to soulful delivery, but does the instrumentation?
Drums heavy like a July kitchen with a pie in the oven introduce the listener’s ears to “Summer Worries,” the next track on Above the Horizon. The song floats above the previous country-flavored tracks into a new genre, pointedly carefree. “Fandango” is like a shot of ice-cold orange juice at 5am right after you brushed your teeth. It gets your attention. The drums pound and the gregarious guitar and vocals invite you along for the ride. “I ain’t lost but I ain’t lookin’ / I’m just a traveling man,” sings Whit, both explaining his existence and putting the listener at ease.
With guitar that wraps around your head like an ushanka, “Killer on the Edge of Town” warms the soul like chicken pot pie. The lyrics recognize the threat of danger, but the warm electrical embrace calms all qualms. Like one of those oxymoronic laws of the universe. With down-home guitar, “Till I Find My Way Home” ends the album with guitar like banana pudding and vocals delivered unencumbered, a man sharing his secrets with a microphone. As Whit sings and snarls his story, the keys, strings, and drums collude in full sound, the kind that is marvelous when you catch it live.
Maradeen Above the Horizon on Spotify
The group performs tonight at Aisle 5, and will be at the Rabbit Hole in Charlotte on March 4. Above the Horizon is a shape shifting record, with moments of glorious guitar and purposeful percussion. Add it to your Music Library today.