Album of the Day: James Maddock – No Time to Cry

Posted by Greg on Sep 22, 2020 in Music |

Since releasing his debut solo album Sunrise on Avenue C in 2010, British-born and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter James Maddock has been quite busy. In the decade since Sunrise on Avenue C he has released five additional studio albums and two live albums. His latest album No Time To Cry is another step forward and further proof that he shows little signs of slowing down.

Now in his late 50s, Maddock has been writing and creating music since the early 80s. His musical output did not catch the attention of an American audience until his band Wood released the nearly flawless album Songs From Stamford Hill. While songs from the album were featured on Dawson’s Creek and the album was released on a major label, the band never gained the traction it deserved. In 2003, Maddock settled in New York City permanently and six years later would relate the EP Strategies for Life.

Since then he has partnered with folks like Aaron Comess of the Spin Doctors, David Immergluck of the Counting Crows, Mike Scott of The Waterboys, Willie Nile and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. Additionally each of his solo albums has earned acclaim across the globe. That of course leads us to No Time to Cry. Released last month No Time to Cry is the first Maddock album to feature covers and much like most of his work was recorded in a week’s time, earlier this spring. Of the nine songs on the album there are few if any duds, but then again, that’s to be expected when listening to Maddock.

The album opens with Cariad Harmon’s “Williamsburg Bridge” a gently rolling valentine to Brooklyn anchored by mandolin, violin and a sweeping chorus. A vernal cut it is unabashedly warm, bright and deeply affecting. Maddock has gone on record as saying that the album was a concert effort to evoke an album that mirrored the early 70s work Rod Stewart and The Eagles. That intent is executed brilliantly on not only “Williamsburg Bridge” but also successive cut “The A Train Takes You Home” A bit more lush than its predecessor the song is more full-bodied and ultimately very rewarding. Beginning with a minute-long instrumental the song eventually yields itself to a layered masterwork that lingers long after the final seconds. Nearly eight minutes in length “The A Train Takes You Home” is a composition that once again serves as a valentine to his adopted hometown.

A buoyant chorus, lilting slide guitar and an infectious chorus accentuate “Waiting On My Girl.” Easily the most accessible of the album’s opening triumvirate “Waiting On My Girl” is engaging, ageless and deeply felt. Maddock has a knack for writing timeless compositions and “Waiting On My Girl” is just the latest example of that. As with most albums these days, a sonic peak is very rarely followed up by another and as such the album takes a significant dip in the next four minutes. Arguably the album’s only hiccup “I’ve Driven These Roads” is sedate, melancholic and ruminative.

Co-written with songwriter Joy Askew the song finds Maddock remarking “I’m happy being lonely, I’m happy being sad.” There’s not much pace to it and little else that makes it memorable. Given his robust output in the last decade Maddock is inclined to take a misstep here or there. Not content to wallow in melancholy, the album takes a significant step forward on the decidedly trippy and buzzy “The High Chose You.” Very much a paean to 1970s Laurel canyon AOR “The High Chose You” is a smart choice for a single and a cut that is unabashedly unique. Equal parts hallucinatory, halcyon and happy “The High Chose You” is a perfect tonic for a most fatiguing year.

The second half of No Time To Cry opens with a cover of Garland Jeffrey’s “New York Skyline.” The third and final valentine to New York City fits Maddock like a glove and finds him and the band in lockstep. Once again bolstered by piano and violin “New York Sykline” is engaging, amiable and an absolute home run. The title track follows and once again revisits the Laurel Canyon soundscape. Sun-drenched and summery “No Time to Cry” almost feels like a rebuttal to the anxiety and chaos of 2020. While it most likely was intended to be a rumination on romance “No Time to Cry” actually probes a bit deeper and maybe that’s the point.

The psychedelic vibe of “The High Chose You” returns in the opening minute of “Open Up To You.” As the song meanders beyond the opening sixty seconds, “Open Up To You” takes on a decidedly soul and R+B vibe. Though ti feels a bit of a departure from the album as a whole as a standalone track it absolutely slays. By the time the song finishes it very much feels like an instant classic, a timeless throwback that will probably find favor with those still new to Maddock’s output.

No Time to Cry closes with “Top of the Stairs” a quiet and gentle ballad that hearkens back to 2009’s Strategies for Life. And perhaps that’s the point. As Maddock embarks into his fifth decade creating music, he continues to churn out quality tune after quality tune. Beloved in his adopted home of New York, Maddock has a devoted following throughout much of the Northeast. Whether the rest of America chooses to pay attention remains to be seen. In the end that will most likely be their loss. If you’ve heard of him or not, no matter. Maddock is a once-in-a-generation talent that thankfully calls New York his home. Leicester, UK can claim him all they want, since 2003 he’s been nothing but a godsend to the American musical landscape.

No Time To Cry is proof.


You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2023 Step Inside This House All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.