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Madison Cunningham (Verve)

From the hypnotic opening riffs of “All I’ve Ever Known,” the first track on Madison Cunningham’s sophomore Verve release, the music unfolds to reveal a self-assured, diverse and passionate talent figuring out her place in the world through her music. Hence the album title, Revealer.


“There’s a sense of conflict about revealing anything about yourself – not just what to reveal, but whether you should reveal anything at all,” explains Cunningham. “When you have to vouch for yourself and present a true picture of who you are, that can get confusing really quickly. This record is a product of me trying to find myself and my interests again.”


The revealing in Revealer starts with the sinewy, hypnotic opening track, “All I’ve Ever Known,” as Cunningham melodically waxes poetic about the new experiences and relationships, she’s encountering for the first time as a young woman on the road. This continues in the self-evaluation of “Hospital,” the self-discovery of “Sunshine Over The Counter” and self-awareness of “Who Are You Now,” all the while revealing a multi-talented artist who can not only deftly move vocally through a range of emotions, but who also has the vision to arrange the perfect soundscapes to match each set of lyrics and the talent to bring those arrangements to life, playing almost all the instruments on the record, including sharing drums and percussion duty with the likes of Matt Chamberlain. But it’s the range of emotion found in this set of songs written during a pandemic that sets Cunningham and Revealer apart from the pack.


“I wanted the work to reflect how I was taking in the work at that moment, and I promised myself I wouldn’t withhold the good or the bad from this self-portrait,” Cunningham explains. “I couldn’t have planned for the startling range of emotions a pandemic would bring on… While I could take some comfort in knowing other people were experiencing those very things, I had yet to understand how many conflicting emotions a person could carry at once.”


At its core, Revealer does not offer answers to the existential questions it raises, but offers the listener solace in knowing they’re not alone. Cunningham also is not alone, as Lightning 100, WXPN, KXT, KMTN, WNXP, and WYEP are only a few of the stations supporting Revealer.


Photo by Claire Marie Vogel

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