Bill Madden – Child of the Same God

Bill Madden
Child of the Same God

Musician and singer-songwriter Bill Madden has always been an opinionated, peculiar and highly political dude. Heck, even with the knowledge that the cover to his album, Samsara’s Grip, would bring about controversy and backlash didn’t stop Madden from continuing with his “exposed manhood” cover. Still, this hasn’t prevented Madden from writing the kind of music he desires: honest, open-hearted and substantial. But with certain freedoms arise potential flaws and Madden’s solely to blame for Child of the Same God’s insolvent and overbearing catalog.

A song that is deeply influenced by reggae, jazz and The Police’s snazzy rhythms like “What the Man Does” is completely buried in the middle of the album. Unless you undertake the mission to get through it after seven tolling songs, it’s not nearly enough to save the album from its drowning fate. It’s too bad that gentle trumpets, snappy percussion and Madden’s smooth crooning is lost in all of this. The same can be said for the march-like style of “Shall Be Heard.” Although the music is inspired and somewhat impressive, it’s stacked at the very back-end of the album.

In many ways, and fittingly so, this is Madden’s political album — a detailed recollection of opinions, viewpoints and ideas. But all of this is pure overkill for the overall mood. The album is plagued with way too many songs that go on for way too long and the crazy aspect of it all is that it clocks in well under fifty minutes. However, it is Madden’s laboring tempos, lifeless melodies and tedious arrangements that fall flat without delivering any soul or heart.

Everything starts off just fine with the rocking guitars and pulsating drums on “Unfair.” Madden sings about finding one’s self and making sometimes unsure but ultimately timely decisions; he sounds his best when he sings, “Listen to your heart and follow the road less traveled.” Things only improve with the title track and its spiritual connection. Madden shows off tribal drums, tender atmospherics and a shining falsetto.

But it’s all throughout the following that one easily gets lost in a haze of meandering chords, uninspiring singing and most importantly, borderline suffocating production. Not only does everything sound stuffy and overpowering but its slick resonance feels forced. Songs like “I Wanna Know,” “Just Like Me” and “Empire” come and go without the slightest hint of sincerity or even joy, for that matter.

Madden’s goal was simple: make a politically-charged album that encircles important decisions and the results of those choices. But he forgot that along the way, the music requires just as much attention as well. The devil is in the details and it’s just too bad that an album like Child of the Same God loses out because of lack of creativity.