We first heard from Comin Home the band in July, upon the release of their single “It Will be Ok.” That track was their first since the tragic and untimely death of their friend and drummer, Jason Brubaker. It is a beautiful acoustic ballad about pain, healing and love. With Jason’s passing the Central Florida band had been reduced to a duo; the married couple and songwriting team of Amberle and Tony Madden.
The Maddens had already seen their fair share of change over the years. In 2014 they moved across the country to pursue their musical dreams together. Since then they have been on a constant tour of the Southeastern United States. They released a live album in 2017, and they released their first studio album “All In” earlier this year. On August 7th they dropped their second, the eleven track acoustic LP “Wide Open.”
Acoustic music is a great equalizer. With electricity, we musicians build layers of feedback, delay and synthesized effects between our performance and the listener. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Who doesn’t love a good whammy bar, wah-wah pedal freakout? However, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a microphone, musicians are left to their own abilities. In the case of Amberle and Tony those abilities include a soulful, skilled and powerfully emotive voice and virtuosic Southern Blues, Rock and Folk guitar technique.
“Wide Open” is a beautifully intimate piece of work in which two expert musicians at the top of their game perform deeply personal songs. Amberle’s voice alternates from deep and bluesy to soft and vulnerable. Her technique is impeccable, but it is the raw emotion that gets you. She examines her relationships with others on songs like “Sometimes,” “It’s About You,” “Somebody Tell Me.”
Elsewhere she digs into the deepest recesses of her own mind. With courage, honesty and a whole lotta soul she navigates depression, anxiety and self esteem issues. But this isn’t wallowing. If there is a lyrical theme here it is one of self awareness in the name of growth. For instance, on “But I’m Not, So I Can’t” she sings, “I’m supposed to be strong in the face of what I have seen. But I’m not, so I can’t. But I won’t fade away.”
For his part, Mr. Madden is excellent. I’m a guitar player by trade and there are few sounds more satisfying than the that of a skilled player alone with his guitar. Tony moves between classic and modern rock styles easily. He shines particularly brightly when grooving on blues leads and funky riffs, as on tracks like “I’ll Save You” and “Bound Naked by My Own Hand.” The latter song in particular is just brilliant on all fronts.
From start to finish, “Wide Open” is an infinitely satisfying record. Beautifully recorded and executed, it is a warm and honest performance from a duo who know themselves, each other and their craft. Check out the video for “But I’m Not, So I Can’t,” above. You can hear the Maddens on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. And follow the links below to connect with Comin Home the Band.