Maddisun hits a new level with ‘Self-Reflections’

A review of Kootenay musician/songwriter’s new album

Album Review by Ferdy Belland

Cranbrook’s rising indie-pop diva Maddison Keiver explodes out into serious artistic respect with her new album Self Reflections — an instantly gripping and continually enjoyable collection of smartly-crafted songs (covering a wide soundscape of grooves and styles) that showcases not only the maturity of her introspective, revealing lyrics, but also how her nakedly autobiographical stories are delivered emotionally through her expressive voice. It’s been long years since a local East Kootenay musical talent has created such a lasting gem of a record, and hopefully Self Reflections will inspire further excellent albums to follow it.

The album kicks right off with “Mountain Air,” a roots-rocking aural love-letter to Maddisun’s beloved Kootenays…although she’s already tasted much of what the whole wide world can offer, she always knows where home is, and is unapologetic. “Sorry” is – you guessed it – a tale of love that’s past its best-before date, propelled through dynamic stop-and-starts within a winning Latino groove. The soulful ballad “Crystal Clear” hearkens back to old-school ‘70s Philadelphia soul, highlighting Maddisun’s glittering vibrato – that’s right: once again, the girl can sing! The mood switches over to bouncy-to-crunchy reggae with “In the End,” yet another song where Maddisun slams the door on some twit who doesn’t deserve her, and good riddance to bad rubbish. An echoing piano comes out to introduce “Wild Roses,” another plaintive ballad about falling in love while wandering alone through the wilderness. The themes of love won and love lost continue throughout the album, and with “Differences,” lush with synthesizer orchestration, the message of the song seesaws back and forth between the hurt (familiarity breeds contempt) to the heat (opposites attract).

Production values on Self Reflections are the painstaking high-caliber sort one usually finds in sprawling big-city recording facilities, but this album came to life in the Slocan Valley, of all places: Sincerity Sound Studios, the headquarters of backwoods-genius producer-engineer Barry Jones – Winlaw BC’s answer to Daniel Lanois, from all accounts (and the sonic evidence presented here on record). The impressive instrumentation found throughout the album is handled by Maddisun’s motivated and talented sidekicks: Kyle Albrecht (who, with his multi-instrumental prowess on guitar and bass and added production elements, is the Dave Stewart to Maddisun’s Annie Lennox) and Jordan Lysenko (laying down the understated yet tasty backbeats on drums and percussion), along with producer Jones (who did pretty much everything else). Not only is the playing top-notch across the board, adding slick style and class all the way front to back, but there’s a lot of rich sonic depth here – and the albums that inspire listeners to keep listening, over and over again, are the ones where the studio time was well spent. Which is the case with Self Reflections.

The second half of the album wastes no time in keeping the emotions rolling strong. The familiar hiss and crackle of the turntable’s needle in an LP’s run-in groove; the gentle wash of salt waves on a lonely shore; the minor-key melodies of a Fender Rhodes piano – and we’re into “Fiction,” a vulnerable Adelesque glimpse into self-esteem, or lack thereof. “3 Crows at the Funeral Home” whisks the listener into Sheryl Crow-style rock territory, tough yet tender. Things pick up with a mischievous bounce as “Days Off” shows how Maddisun is just as comfortable kicking her heels up in joy, too – one can’t be moping about dumb guys all the time, right? “Reflections” returns to the moody form established by much of what’s come before, with lyrics promising strength and growth after a long dark night of the soul. And the album concludes with “Contrast,” another piano-driven tale of the angst and trials of love borne by those carrying their tears from earnest adolescence into the unfolding butterfly of young adulthood.

Just Wow. This is what happens when you combine the best elements of Carole King, Janis Ian, Joan Armatrading, Adele Adkins, Sarah MacLachlan, Joni Mitchell – Maddison Keiver has a long and fruitful career ahead of her, and Self Reflections proves it — not just to the towering mountains and the endless forests that surround her Kootenay home, but to that whole wide world at large, beyond the mountains and far away.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry to the U.S., still placed in Canadian quarantine

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Trail Smoke Eaters forward Jaden Senkoe set up two goals including the game winner in a 3-1 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks on Saturday. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Smoke Eaters even Kootenay Cup series vs Cranbrook

Trail Smoke Eaters bounce back for 3-1 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks Saturday

The old Kootenay Springs building on 6th Street in Cranbrook, just off the highway, was on fire Saturday night, Oct 17. Barry Coulter photo
Kootenay Springs building, former water bottling plant, burns in Cranbrook

Emergency crews were on the scene on 6th Street and Cranbrook Street Saturday night

Cranbrook’s Kootenay Orchards School has won the 2020 Cycling Challenge, this year being the second year in a row. (Submitted file)
Kootenay Orchards School wins 2020 Bike to School Challenge

This is the second year in a row that the school has won the challenge with GoByBike Cranbrook

A number of cars carrying coal derailed north of Edgewater on Oct. 10. Photo courtesy B.C. Government.
Coal train derailment north of Edgewater under investigation

17 cars went off the tracks, two more flipped, spilling coal into Columbia River on Oct. 10

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The final result of British Columbia’s provincial election won’t be known for at least two weeks because more than 700-thousand mail-in ballots have to be counted by hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s snap election means 700k ballots will be counted manually, delaying results

Elections BC spokesman said employees in 87 electoral districts will count mail-in ballots one by one

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

Canada continues to climb toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

Most Read