They say if you know, you know. That can be said for Madeleine Mayi, an artist on the path to greatness. She just released her debut album 2/14—a striking 8-track effort capturing hope in a time when hope is all you have. The Santa Barbara-bred, LA-based singer-songwriter navigates the shallow waters of the city by bringing a much-needed tune-up to the guitar-driven scene. At 23-years-old she’s sort of an enigma as the industry gravitates toward derivative pop music that feels empty and mostly soulless. Mayi knows what the weight of the world feels like and her ideas are immersed in this collection of songs as she makes it through to the other side.
Although its titled 2/14 and arrived on Valentine’s Day, this isn’t some overly sweet and fuzzy Hallmark card of a record. In fact, the holiday is a stark reminder that in 2018 and 2019, Mayi lost two loved ones during the week of Valentine’s Day. With 2/14, Mayi explores the depths of love and loss, grief, and yesterday’s wounds that never seemed to fully heal.
2/14 consists of six full tracks and two interludes. The album kicks off with “smoke,” a track featuring a fierce guitar solo and unmistakable grit. Mayi sonically channels 90s alt/indie rock by displaying chiming riffs and inciting much tenacity. The song reveals her clear influences of a bygone era, but also allows her to flourish her original sounds and ideas. She follows-up with “friendly fires,” an emotive ballad focused on mourning and how it can rattle friendships by pushing away those closest to you. After these two tracks, there’s a peaceful interlude that’s soothing and dreamlike. While brief, it transitions well into the next track.
On “ITRL” (In The Right Light), Mayi’s impassioned vocals, somber guitar, and delicate songwriting is front and center. Here, we witness Mayi’s propensity for creating wondrous soundscapes but not to be outdone by storytelling talents. “ITRL” speaks about trauma, untimely death, and how to cope with the aftermath of such events. Melancholic yet moving, Mayi gracefully puts it all together with “ITRL” feeling like a song you can lean on in the toughest of times. On “for anything,” Mayi takes on a sorrowful approach and navigates through the feelings of dissociation with her surrounding world. On the sonic front, this hidden gem encapsulates an absorbent energy by offering a balmy, alt-rock ether.
“Love Me” is an unapologetic tune that feels singular and arouses intense emotion. It’s nostalgic to a T with sincere songwriting that’s filled with much heart. A second interlude subsequently follows as it bridges the gap to the album’s final song. “Here” brings a certain kind nuance, delicate on the edges, but sturdy underneath. Mayi’s delivery is light and patient as she observes the painful situation in sight.
Mayi’s music is storyteller driven, but her guitars also provide their own language. Her spoken lyrics and the sonic offerings come together, shake hands, and unite as one. The results are nothing shy of moving and this continuous narrative discovered on 2/14 sparks profound emotions too difficult to ignore head on.