MADELEINE ROGER

Nerve
(Birthday Cake)
Add date: 9.3.2024
Release date: 8.30.2024



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Nerve, the second album by Canadian songwriter Madeleine Roger (out August 30 2024 on Birthday Cake Records) is a journey into the hidden depths of ourselves.

Written in the wee hours over several years, and recorded with producer Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman, Bob Weir, Anais Mitchell), these are soul-baring songs. Madeleine explores the exposed nerve left over from a breakup with a years-long lover and musical collaborator, the death of a soul-friend, an unrequited love, and months of caring for a dying grandparent, while finding a curious peace in spite of it all. “Never have I written such personal songs, so specific and revealing, and had the gumption to share them with anyone. I’ve pulled at these hidden pieces of myself and found that I can handle sharing them,” says Madeleine.

The album begins with the question “What am I supposed to do with you, my old lover?” and ends with a wish, “I hope you think of me whenever you find wildflowers.” The rest unfolds in a series of snapshots; lovers pulled over in a ditch picking brown-eyed susans, suitcases and guitars being loaded through a front gate for the last time, sparrows singing outside a deathbed window, a lone dancer at the foot of a stage, the aroma of tea in the morning across from a dear one, and a traveler that seems to only have time for one kiss. 

Whittled down to the 10 most vulnerable songs from an initial 30, the album was recorded in four days with engineer D. James Goodwin (Blitzen Trapper, The National, Bonny Light Horseman) and assistant engineer Gillian Pelkonen at The Isokon studio in Kingston, NY. Each recording began with Madeleine singing and playing acoustic guitar, with producer Kaufman accompanying on an instrument of his choice. No click tracks, no headphones – just the songs coming to life in their most honest form. After multiple takes of each, one complete take was chosen, to which Josh added a gorgeous flurry of textures –  organ, tenor guitar, mandolin, wurlitzer, bass, piano, and drums. Other musicians added their brilliance here and there: JT Bates on drums, Julian Bradford on bass, and Elise Boeur on fiddle. The resulting recordings are raw and full of life, masterfully combining Madeleine’s exceptional songwriting and heartfelt voice with Josh’s intuitive and adventurous production.

“So much of the creation of this album was about going toward things that terrified me – from writing these songs in the first place, to traveling to the US to record them with Josh and Dan, whose work I have deeply admired for many years, to tracking the songs in full without editing the “mistakes,” to mixing the record in a way that keeps my voice front and centre. It’s a piece of my heart brought into the open.” 

Nerve is an uplifting gut-punch; an uninhibited account of risk, longing, regret, grief, and love. Madeleine bravely exposes the delicate and private moments in life that are universal and sets them adrift on melodies and arrangements that make us feel like nothing is insurmountable.