So you’ve got a guitar, and you can kinda sing. You dick around with the six strings, maybe even throw together a few “songs”, and maybe you even show off to your friends. Then one day you realize that you actually possess a camera. Let’s say your Great Auntie Fran gave it to you on your whatever-th birthday (yeah, that sounds good, let’s go with that). The next, logical step here is to record yourself squealing and squeezing whatever passes for a song out of your guitar. Naturally, you then upload it to YouTube, because you’re either shockingly conceited, or just a glutton for punishment. You then sit back and gloat as your friends watch your videos, more out of politeness, since you’ve already probably left physical scarring on their eardrums from playing your songs for them over, and over, and over, and over. And next comes . . . well, nothing. There is no “next”. Your fifteen minutes of fame (which, let’s face it, were more like fifteen seconds) are up. You pout, unfriend a few people on Facebook, and then you take up watercolours or something (I don’t know, use your imagination).
Oh! I’m sorry. Did you think I was talking about today’s feature artist, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Rebecca Madamba? Oh, no, no, no, no, no, my friend. What I’ve just described up there happens to people who have a deficiency of talent, and a surplus of ego. Rebecca has neither of those defects. She’s the quietly talented girl, off in a corner with a guitar, dishing out one poignant, perfectly executed song after another. She’s the one working away and actually making music, until one day, she’s the one you’re telling your publicist/editor about.
Okay, I might have started a little too in-your-face. Let’s back up a little bit (have a cigarette, if that’s your thing). Just who in the happy hell am I talking about anyway? So glad you asked. Rebecca Madamba, as I’ve already mentioned, is a Torontonian songstress, with a surprisingly smooth and clean voice, and a penchant for writing songs that speak directly to the person inside us. Not the busy-latte-sipping-have-to-finish-this-and-hand-it-and-deadline’s-today-at-noon people we put on like clothes each morning before going to work. Her songs bypass all that malarkey, and cut directly to the real, awkward, insecure, slightly broken person inside all of us, and tell us that You know what? Things might just be okay.
She’s also not your run-of-the-mill guitar-and-voice package either. Speeding up, slowing down, and generally molding the song to your lyrical needs is something that sounds as though it ought to be in a musician’s very soul. Despite this, however, most musicians seem almost afraid to change anything in their song’s format, choosing to chug along at a pre-determined 120 bpm (or whatever), with the reliability of a German locomotive (Please note: The author has no clue whether German locomotives are reliable or not. He merely makes that assumption based on decades worth of stereotypes). Rebecca is smarter than that. She doesn’t hesitate to speed up to emphasize her point, or to slow down, in order to give her listeners time to take in her oftentimes intimate message. I’ve gotta say, the first time I’d heard her do that, I was really taken aback. “Can she do that?” I thought. “Isn’t anyone going to tell her she can’t do that?” Then, I realized that for the past five hundred years people have been taking liberties with their music (in classical music it’s called rubato; Italian for “stolen”, as in “stolen time”). It was honestly refreshing to see an artist who was not afraid to bend the acoustic format to her will. But enough blabbering from me. Let’s let the lady speak for herself.
If you feel like playing along at home, you can find Rebecca’s music on her YouTube page.
‘Please, Don’t Erase’ is first up on our Artist Review Chopping Block (which has the totally badass, and Marvel-comic-book-worthy acronym of ARC-B). This is, at its very essence, a break-up song, but at the same time it’s also much more than a simple out-and-out broken-heart piece. It’s about losing that one person you thought was completely “right” for you, and who you held most dear. It’s about the pain you feel, but at its very core, the song is about holding on to the hope that the one you used to love won’t forget you (won’t “erase” you from their memories). The guitar accompaniment is pretty much straightforward, and you get the sense that it’s intentional. As though Rebecca doesn’t want anything to take away from the lyrical message of the track; not even the music.
While ‘Please, Don’t Erase’ presents its listener with the end of a romance, ‘Moments’ is the complete opposite. It’s about the heady rush that you feel when you meet someone for the first time, and there’s that spark that you feel deep inside you. It’s about the excitement, and the emotional roller coaster that is that first minute that you fall for someone. The first thing that is apparent on this track is the maturity that Rebecca’s voice has. She has the voice of a much more experienced artist, and she uses it to great effect. From the more quietly introspective, to the outright joyful and hopeful, she seems to control her emotions, and her emotional voice with great ease. The light, almost buoyant guitar canvas on which she weaves her vocals lends this track a sense of optimism. This really sells the optimism of the concept behind the song. It’s also interesting to note that Rebecca has a surprisingly assured tone, both vocally, and instrumentally as well. Guitar and vocals are never out of sync, either rhythmically, or tone-wise.
‘Energy, I Feel’ is quite possibly Rebecca’s best track to date. It’s all about finding your inspiration and the energy that keeps driving you to create, whether in art, or even in everyday life. The track starts off fairly standard for an indie song, but as it turns out, this is pretty far from a standard indie track. The song picks up around the thirty-second mark, infusing the track with the familiar optimism that seems to characterize Rebecca’s music. Despite this, she doesn’t seem satisfied to leave it at that. The song changes tact again around the one-minute-and-five-second mark (effectively, the track’s “breakdown”). This next bit is more direct to the point, and you can almost see Rebecca’s very sound changing and morphing before your very eyes, blossoming into the next section. Around the two-minute-and-thirty-second mark, the track changes rhythm yet again, and I’ve gotta say, I’m seriously impressed that the song hasn’t slipped into gimmickdom. The changes throughout the track seem natural and organic, and this last change of pace sees the song take on a more final tone. It’s as if we’ve joined Rebecca on an exploration and celebration of the pure joy of finding your energy and your inspiration.
It’s probably still too early to call it (I mean she’s just out of the gate, musically speaking), but if she keeps putting out songs like these, there is a very good chance we’ll be seeing Ms. Madamba at Canadian Music Week pretty soon.