The journey that led to Madalean Gauze's haunting new "Sing"
Madalean Gauze | Photo by John Vettese

Making her debut LP has been a long road for Philly songwriter Madalean Gauze. We first heard the haunting singer-songwriter-rocker last spring when she released a fantastic EP of heavy, compelling, narrative-driven songs called American War. Initially, she tells us, the plan was to follow it up right away with new material – and a show we saw her play at Ortlieb’s featured a lot of music from the record-in-progress.

But when she wrapped up production with Jeff Zeigler and her bandmates at the time – Pat Berkery on drums, Ramon Monras-Sender on bass and Ross Bellenoit on guitar – the songs sounded great, but not complete. As Gauze explains:

I decided to ignore my mixed feelings about the four tracks and decided to go through and begin the album art for the EP. I had my little sister Grace wake up at 6 a.m. and come to the park 20 minutes from our house and shoot photos of me for the album cover. I wanted the album cover to be me pushing a guitar down the river channeling what happened with Moses…I thought it was an epic idea so I went into the river at 6 a.m. and was freezing but we got the shot. I had someone put together the album art but then I decided NOPE! this album is not cutting it. I need to add more songs.

She returned to Uniform Recording with Zeigler and recorded another four songs, this time with the versatile Todd Erk on bass. She felt happier, changed the working album cover to a photo of her face (“Oh, people should know what I look like!”) and decided to call it the Dark Heart LP. She had it mastered and pressed. But “the CD’s arrived and I felt miserable,” Gauze says. “I hid the CDs in my closet and I could barely even listen. Everything sounded great, but it just didn’t excite me.”

The answer was one more trip into the studio – which financially meant giving up her apartment in Philly and moving back with her family – but she was game. This time she went to Brian McTear, who recorded the American War EP, and was joined by Richard Straub (of Darla and W.C. Lindsay) on drums and Owen Biddle, formerly of The Roots, on bass. Three more tracks were laid down – including the driving, mysterious “Sing” – and when the dust settled, the album finally felt complete.

The song called “Sing” really made me feel like everything I went through since deciding to be a musician was worth it. All the nights playing in dark bars, the feeling of being ignored by the audience all the anxiety kind of felt worth it. I am proud of how the song “Sing” turned out.  I wanted the listener to feel childlike emotions, but for it to be twisted in a way. The song reminds me of the scene in The Little Mermaid when Ariel sings for Ursula. The idea that someone naive was taken advantage of.

Right now, the album is slated for a December release – though Gauze will be performing songs from it at Boot and Saddle on October 2nd (tickets and more information can be found here). Of the process, she says “The album Sing really pushed me. It made me completely broke, and I now live with my parents, but I am so proud of my work. I think that is all that matters in the end.”

Listen to “Sing” below.

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