PORT HOPE, ONTARIO: Following a brief flirtation with a more electronic sound last year, Madison Violet have returned to their roots with the new full-length album The Knight Sessions.
The JUNO Award-nominated duo, featuring Creignish native Lisa MacIsaac and longtime musical collaborator Brenley MacEachern, features five songs that were previously released on their 2016 album The Year of the Horse. While that album, recorded for the electronic dance label Ultra Records, garnered over 1.1 million listens on the music sharing site Spotify, MacEachern and MacIsaac wanted to return to the acoustic-driven sound that has characterized Madison Violet’s 17 years of recordings and live performances.
“We were getting a lot of feedback from our fans, saying they were more used to hearing us as a duo and more of a stripped-back, acoustic sound from us,” MacEachern told The Reporter.
“So we decided that we would take the songs and strip them back – we actually reinvented one of the songs, called ‘Operator,’ and played a whole other chord structure underneath and the melody is slightly different. So it really breathes a whole new life into the track, as well as a new meaning.”
Along with “Operator,” Madison Violet has overhauled four other tracks from The Year of the Horse – “Same Sun,” “Ohio,” “Trouble” and “These Ships,” with the last song’s original electronic version also serving as the closing track for The Knight Sessions.
Throughout the rest of the new album, the duo’s traditional lush harmonies and roots-driven instrumentation shine through, with their knack for storytelling prevalent on such tracks as “We Are Famous,” concocted after a chance encounter with British chart-topper Sam Smith during a songwriting session in Los Angeles.
“We’re sitting in a flat writing together…[And] we heard this voice with an English accent outside, and Lisa opened one of the blinds in the flat, and she looked out, and it was Sam Smith, and he was actually going to a writing session with somebody else,” MacEachern recalled.
“And then that other writer told us later that he’d been standing outside the window and was listening for awhile, and that he felt super-inspired by these two women who were writing with each other. So we never got to meet him, but he still heard us sing!”
While MacIsaac and MacEachern have taken some sharp turns in recent years, with the pair vowing to continue as Madison Violet following the dissolution of their personal relationship in 2012, both women feel they are now stronger as a result of the hardships they have endured on-and-offstage.
“The more you know someone, the easier it is [to collaborate musically],” MacIsaac suggested.
“I find it strange to go into a room and write with a stranger. But Brenley and I know each other inside and out, and we know each other’s idiosyncrasies, and that helps our songwriting – it’s like we’re writing with a high mind.”
For more information, visit the Web site: www.madisonviolet.com, or check out Madison Violet’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify accounts.