Okay, before we start, let’s just put the facts out there. “Down The Rabbit Hole” is a stunning record. Madame Z is a mind blowing performing and creative talent. Musically, it is a terrific journey into the artist’s masterful composing, stellar singing, and intense lyrics that remain compelling even after repeated listening. Some may refer to the angular musical approach that Madame Z and her production collaborators take with this record, as being a fusion of styles and interpretations. I find this record to be a pretty astonishing mix of art, sensitivity, societal and personal discourse and animated attitude.
Madame Z retains plenty of accessible melodic phrasing, however, inserted into this album, is a great pastiche of flavors that incorporate canon, syncopation and cinematic tones. There are times when “Down The Rabbit Hole” borders on Progressive rock, psychedelic and jazz fusion. One thing becomes quickly clear, this album will require multiple listening to reveal its true complexity. And that’s the core of real art. Ultimately this recording is a triumph of expression.
“Down The Rabbit Hole” is an album of ambition, frustration, and all sorts of tempestuous occurrences. It abounds in a dynamic sea of washes and colors dictating moods and passages. There’s so much sonic variety and vocal beauty in this album that it’s hard to catalog in one sitting. And it gets better and better as it goes along.
To give you the measure of how ambitiously grandiose this album is – Madame Z has done a reworked version of the Alicia Keys track “Fallin” which is superb in its arrangement and execution, yet in my book, it doesn’t come close to the other standout tracks here. That’s how good the original songwriting and instrumentation is on “Down The Rabbit Hole”.
The album kicks off with the accessible jazzy piano and bluesy bass groove of “All The Things I Hate About You”, before moving into the psychedelic rock tones of “Indulge”. Madame Z shifts her voice from a whisper to a roar in effortless transitions that captivate and entrance, while the guitars screech and squeal with grinding intensity.
“Fall Down” presents yet another stylistic metamorphosis, and flips again on “Countervibe”. You almost need to educate yourself to Madame Z’s compositional forms and musical conception to keep pace with her creativity.
“A Thousand Lives” is a slow burn that is so intensely sultry it will creep under your skin, coerced by the skittering hi-hats and the breathy poignancy of Madam Z’s voice. The title track, “Down The Rabbit Hole” (ft. Riot Craig), delivers a defiantly urgent message with groovy interaction between Madame Z, the crunchy electric guitar, and the rapped verses.
Whatever her musical identity, it has no bearing on Madame Z’s talent and creativity which continues to blossom on the expanding “Unwanted”, the hip rhythmic tempo of “Blue Smoke and Honey Whiskey”, or the ethereal wistfulness of “Pieces Of Me”.
There are certain times when you see a spark of brilliance burn its way onto an album and then just as quickly flicker out and disappear. Not so with this album, as each subsequent track brings a new thrill to the table. The throaty “Secrets” precedes the Alicia Keys cover “Fallin”, before we encounter the electro-synth soundscape of “A Thousand Lives” produced by Mauro S.
Powerful layered vocals marinate in-between snare shuffles, synth flourishes and bass pops on “Into You”, while the bone-crushing metal rock influences of “Sore” pushes Madame Z’s vocals over the edge. “One That Got Away” presents yet another brisk left turn sonically, with its dark arpeggiated synths and four to the floor drumbeat.
Make no mistake about it, this album is a masterpiece. Although it is musically dense, the production by Madame Z, The M Project and Steve Keith, as well as the mastering studio, makes damn sure that the listener can understand every word and hear every instrument clear and true.
This is one of those albums that goes all over the musical landscape but one where you can never be prepared for what’s next as it jumps brilliantly from one extreme to the other. And one where Madame Z wastes no time to assert herself as a dominant force. “Down The Rabbit Hole”, will be released on June 26, 2020 and is being released and is supported by Unlimited Sounds Publishing & Distribution, LLC.