A rock & roll lifer, James Maddock has been carving his unique path since the 1980s, when the British-born singer/songwriter kicked off his career with a raw, soulful voice; a storyteller’s sense of narrative; and the ability to blur the lines between folk, classic pop, and rock.
Since those early days in London, he’s ridden the wave of a music industry that’s ebbed, flowed, peaked, and crashed. Maddock has stayed afloat throughout the entire ride, enjoying a brush with commercial success during the late 1990s — including a major-label record deal, a Top 5 AAA radio hit, and a song placement on Dawson’s Creek — before transforming himself into an independent solo artist during the decades that followed. Bruce Springsteen is a fan. So is David Letterman. Listening to Maddock’s newest record, Insanity vs Humanity, it’s easy to see the appeal.
Insanity vs Humanity returns Maddock to his politically-charged roots, bringing him full circle after a three-decade career. Recorded in the wake of the American election that sent Donald Trump to the White House, the new album finds Maddock — a New York City resident since the early 2000s — rallying against capitalism, dictators, and the suppression of equal rights. Songs like “Fucked Up World” make no attempt to hide their anger, while the music itself — a soulful brand of rock & roll that nods to Neil Young, Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, Bruce Hornsby, and Bill Withers — underscores Maddock’s lyrics with plenty of guitar firepower and piano punch. Gluing the mix together is his voice: a stunning instrument that’s grown warm and weathered since his days in the U.K., without losing its poignancy.