Abel – Mad River

One of my favorite artists that I’ve written about over the past year is Abel. The lo-fi sappiness is some of the most clever and sensitive music I’ve come across on my Columbus music pilgrimage. It’s vulnerable. It’s emotional. And it’s starting to become clear to me that it’s wholly original. Abel’s latest release, “Mad River,” represents a maturing artist who is starting to come around to filling out their sound.

Faithful drumming and a soaring guitar that evokes hope fill out the nice full sound we’re greeted with on “Mad River.” It reeks of lo-fi nostalgia. It also sounds like one of the most anthemic Abel songs from the catalog, with triumphant buildups and intense lyrics. With Abel handling the mixing and Glenn Davis once again mastering the track, it seems like these two have crafted a pretty solid musical foundation.

What is the song about, though? The lyrics on “Mad River” are quite damning. Abel begins the tune by setting a tried and true Midwest scene: walking to the train tracks to throw some rocks. This act evokes existential thoughts for Abel, who sings, “Then my ears will ring, and I’ll say, ‘I’m not sure why I’m here today.’”

On the past Abel release – a pair of singles covered here by Tuned Up’s Alex Dye – the percussion had a very minimalist sound to them. To go along with the full wall of sound, the drums also sound more flooded on “Mad River.” Musically, it’s what sticks out the most. Will we hear a mix of minimalist and maximalist Abel on its upcoming album due out October 7?

Whatever Abel delivers, it’ll be sure to tug at your heartstrings. “Mad River” finishes quite beautifully given the slow build of the song and the commanding energy around the two-and-a-half minute mark. It comes to a head and then settles down so that we can hear Abel usher the words, “Took four footsteps your direction/I wasn’t really moving.” It’s an outro that proves once again that Abel isn’t afraid to be vulnerable in scribing about their personal relationships. Tuned Up will be looking forward to more of these pensive liabilities come October.

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