Review: madelyniris, Adventures
Madelyn Munsell, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from St. Louis, MO, enjoys working under the artist name of madelyniris, when creating her indie pop music. Gifted with the ability to hit the rarity of a high A flat, Munsell has found most of her vocal training through classical voice teachers, even as she combated the most demanding of soprano parts in opera. Despite most of her foundation resting in the classical world, Munsell continues to venture into the indie pop territory with madelyniris’ latest EP, Adventures. Composed of five tracks, Adventures illuminates the inspiration that Munsell found within the summer of 2014, through exploration of the world and discovering new people: the EP embodies the sense of independence and optimism that Munsell, of madelyniris, found throughout her journey.
The EP, Adventures, begins with the mid-tempo “Leave and Never Look Back,” which spans for slightly more than four minutes. Instrumentally, “Leave and Never Look Back,” does not deviate tremendously from its established repetition of a sixteenth-note bass groove that moves in conjunction with a light snare drum striking. For the choruses, during which Munsell sings out in an exquisite falsetto, “Never thought it would be easier to leave and never look back,” a gentle tapping of the hi-hat softly complements the snare drum, adding a simple, but stronger element of energy for the established soft, slowly grooving track. With the standard instrumentation set for “Leave and Never Look Back,” Munsell is immediately granted the platform to illuminate her vocal ability. Instantly, the warmth, gentleness, and delicateness of Munsell’s soulful, crisp-falsetto voice is audible, establishing “Leave and Never Look Back” as an impeccable track to introduce listeners to her vocal talent.
The first track of Adventures is followed by one of the EP’s longest tracks, “Ghost,” which lasts for nearly five minutes. As the track starts, Munsell’s audibly soulful, jazz-influenced voice is heard, questioning, inquisitively, as a narrator, “Do you remember that first time you felt alive?” Munsell is again granted a suitable platform to demonstrate her vocal ability, as her welcoming vocals are complemented by the gentle gracing of optimistic piano notes. However, with “Ghost,” Munsell doesn’t shy away from allowing the percussion groove to show-off, with a heavier, more energetic backing beat supporting her, along with the piano instrumentation. The percussion groove appears heavily rock and jazz influenced, between offbeat, but interesting additions of snare drum hits and light ride cymbal taps. The supportive, grooving percussion adds a fresh dynamic to both “Ghost” and Adventures, as a whole. While Munsell’s voice settles into its typically falsetto perfection, the instrumentation of “Ghost” adds a level of higher energy, making for a remarkably powerful track, most specifically conveyed through Munsell’s passionate singing of, “When did the fire leave my bones? When did the fire leave your eyes?” Her reverberating, ethereal vocals outshine all elements that compromise “Ghost,” easily making Munsell a vocal force to be reckoned with.
In the midst of Adventures is “Street Signs and White Lies” and “Let’s Restart.” The former is an upbeat, driving track that’s heavily soft rock influenced. In “Street Signs and White Lies,” Munsell’s voice takes on a different tone. Normally driven by delicate qualities, on this track, she doesn’t shy away from showing more of a commanding tone. Her voice still holds its delicateness, but on “Street Signs and White Lies,” Munsell settles into an even stronger, confident tone, impeccably finding her groove and enhancing her sound. The strength of the composition’s voice and instrumentation adds a layer of differentiation amid Adventures, showcasing Munsell as a dominating, confident artist, who isn’t afraid to change things up. On “Let’s Restart,” madelyniris decides on a slower tempo, but continues chasing after a more rock inspired sound. However, what is noticeably different about the nearly five-minute track is its more ominous, darker tones. There’s an unequivocal, audible ominous discovered through “Let’s Restart,” between the light instrumentation and hauntingly beautiful falsettos that are captivated by soulfulness. The composition, intriguingly and enticingly, portrays madelyniris in a darker light, as Munsell continues to demonstrate the multiple musical layers she encompasses and will continue to portray.
Concluding Adventures is the nearly four-minute track, entitled “Adventure.” Throughout the track, the narrator is torn between an apparent ex-lover, whom she has driven ten hours to see, again, but the ex-lover has fallen in love with someone else (“But you’ve fallen in love with time and science | and most of all her | She builds you up and tears you down | She claws at your head and makes you hurt.”) Noting that neither of them is getting any younger, the narrator asks the “So why not come alive with me tonight? | We can go on an adventure and swear we’ll never forget these summer nights.” In a tale of discovery, throughout “Adventure,” the narrator has realized whom she wants — her ex-lover — decisively choosing to let love in. For the Adventures EP, its conclusive track is revelatory, as Munsell has the epiphany of whom she wants to fall in love with, driving the ten hours to locate the person whom she spent memorable summer nights with and felt most alive with. Overall, the Adventures EP proves enormously successful for madelyniris, as it’s captivated by delicateness, ethereal qualities, and primarily and most importantly, versatility and diversity.
Review by: Alexa Spieler
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)