Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew

by Madisen Ward and the Mama BearMadisen Ward and the Mama Bear


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To say Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear have a great gimmick stretches the boundaries of understatement -- a guy in his late twenties harmonizing and switching back and forth on lead guitar with his mother in her early sixties is likely to get press even if their music was little more than adequate. However, the debut album from the duo, 2015's Skeleton Crew, confirms that this pair get over honestly on their talent, showing impressive skills as vocalists, instrumentalists, and songwriters. Madisen Ward gets top billing here for good reason: his rich but flexible voice boasts a wealth of dramatic power, and he absolutely knows how to sell these songs, spinning his literate stories of Southern life with the skill of a gifted actor. But if Madisen Ward is the star of the show, Ruth Ward (aka Mama Bear) is a more than worthy collaborator: her high, sweet, supporting vocals complement her son's very well, and while the guitar work here is subtle, the two players weave their instrumental lines around one another with artful intelligence, giving the melodies a strength that doesn't get in the way of their folkie simplicity. And while the duo are clearly informed by blues, folk, and gospel sounds, they don't land comfortably in any particular camp. These melodies may be elemental, but they're hardly simple; they're a fine match for lyrics which deal with the stuff of ordinary lives with compassion and perception, ranging from love and war to pie and Cherry Coke. Jimmy Abbiss' production captures the interplay between the musicians very well, focusing on the acoustic space of the voices and guitars, and providing accompaniment that enhances the songs rather than weighing them down. If it takes the family band angle to get Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear into the marketplace, let it be said that far more intrusive gimmicks have been used in the service of far less satisfying music, and Skeleton Crew is a debut with heart, soul, and fine songs to spare.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/18/2015
Label: Glassnote
UPC: 0810599020774
catalogNumber: 17302
Rank: 99217

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear   Primary Artist
Jim Abbiss   Organ,Percussion,Piano
Micah Hulscher   Harmonium,fender rhodes
Larissa Maestro   Cello
Zach Casebolt   Violin,Viola
John Radford   Percussion,Drums
Mama Bear   Vocals,Guitar (Nylon String)
Jon Estes   Acoustic Bass,Upright Bass
Matt Parks   Pedal Steel Guitar
Madisen Ward   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Acoustic Bass

Technical Credits

Jim Abbiss   Producer
Ian Dowling   Engineer
Larissa Maestro   String Arrangements
Ruth Ward   Composer
Daniel Glass   Artwork
Chris Scully   Artwork
Neil Smith   Engineer
Madisen Ward   Composer
Brad McBride   Soundscape
McKee Floyd   Advisor

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