REVIEW: Jaye Madison — MIRЯOR: Framework (EP)
The Nashville scene has come into its own all over again in the past twenty years, and from a critical perspective, I think its greatest generation of experimentalists could be walking among us today, creating yet another layer to the identity of what has become country music as a whole. In the new EP MIRЯOR: Framework, Jaye Madison offers up a lush, melodic take on the hybridity of contemporary alternative country that rivals some of the best content I’ve heard from the mainstream and American underground the same. Although steeped in intricacies that place its core aesthetics outside the realm of pop conventionality, MIRЯOR: Framework is an inventive work that doesn’t leave me bored or feeling overwhelmed by its melodic grandeur.
Delicate melodies are always at the center of the composing in this EP, and I would point to the songs “Catch 22” and “In the Grey” as the best examples of Jaye Madison’s fragility in action. The bassline in the latter is so brittle that the flailing guitar harmony at the forefront of the mix feels almost too abrasive for the foundation of the song; nonetheless, this winds up producing some of the most exciting tension on the record. Everything has a place within MIRЯOR: Framework, including anomalies that would likely dismantle the continuity of similarly Americana-influenced releases.
The vocal sounds burdened by the pressure of the instruments in “Shadow Man,” but I don’t get the feeling that this was an unintended result by any means. There’s nothing about the construction of this extended play that would suggest anything other than meticulousness from the start of recording to the final mixing session, and despite a couple of rough edges that force some startlingly unpredictable feelings to the surface, it’s the oddities contained in this record that make it such a difficult piece to put down. Jaye Madison isn’t for cookie-cutter country fans per se, but instead, the discriminating audiophile jonesing for something original.
While the way MIRЯOR: Framework was produced would initially have most believing that introducing insularity to the music through the mastering was of paramount importance to the artists, I don’t know that this was any more of a goal for Jaye Madison than simply making something outside-the-box in general was. The smothering tonality of the instruments is admittedly inescapable, but it has something to present us with in songs like “Devil I Know” and “In the Grey” that words couldn’t account for on their own. Every part of the music is communicating something to the listener, and not just reinforcing a feeling of cinematic luster in the material.
DOWNLOAD LINK: https://stem.ffm.to/mirrorframework
MIRЯOR: Framework is quite the curious hybrid of American folk, gentle pop, and straightforward indie country with a rock undertow, and though it’s on the quirkier end of the spectrum, I believe it has something that few other alternative EPs are sporting in 2023. The unique bones and cosmetic finish in this record alone would make it a treat for music enthusiasts everywhere this spring, but coupled with the quality of the music itself, Jaye Madison’s latest release isn’t just their best — it’s their most literate and full-bodied country offering to date.