Jesse Lynn Madera’s latest release, “Unchained,” serves as the lead single from her forthcoming sophomore album, Belle Sent Me, and showcases Madera’s growth as an artist. It’s a compelling cover of Johnny Cash’s 1996 song of the same name, but the track is only similar in the broadest of strokes as Madera taps into something far more maternal and emotional with her take on the track.
As a lead single, “Unchained” sets the stage for Belle Sent Me with its haunting guitar-forward sound and Madera’s raw vocals. The song’s lyrical themes of breaking free from emotional burdens and finding a sense of liberation are universal and relatable. Madera’s cover of “Unchained” stands out with its somber yet uplifting tone, and it promises exciting things to come from her second album.
The importance of a lead single cannot be overstated, and its success or failure can make or break an album’s overall reception. Some popular instances of lead singles succeeding include Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” both of which propelled their respective albums to massive commercial and critical success. In contrast, some lead singles have failed to generate significant attention, such as Madonna’s “Living for Love” and Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm.”
Madera’s “Unchained” is poised for success as a lead single, with its striking lyric video and the already-established popularity of Cash’s original song. The cover is a testament to Madera’s versatility as an artist, and her ability to take a classic song and make it her own.
This isn’t the first time that a popular cover track has generated attention and acclaim for an artist. Aretha Franklin’s cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” Nirvana’s cover of David Bowie’s own “The Man Who Sold The World,” and Whitney Houston’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” are a few prime examples of covers that have become cultural touchstones and have eclipsed the original versions. Madera’s “Unchained” has the potential to join this pantheon of classic covers, as it adds a fresh perspective to a beloved song while still honoring its original essence.
While “Unchained” sees Madera in a downtempo light, there’s no telling what else is in store for the rest of Belle Sent Me — about her choice in genres, Madera had this to say: “ “I love so many genres. When I sit down at the piano to write, it’s a mixed bag. To me, music is music, and I go with how I’m feeling in that moment. The simple truth of human emotion and experience creates an endless palette. I listen to all kinds of different music and my influences are equally diverse. Inspiration is everywhere!” The album has the potential to be a variety of exciting pieces from the talented singer-songwriter, and this first single is definitely enough to pique audience interest as the release date grows nearer.
It’s undeniable that “Unchained” is a powerful lead single that showcases Madera’s evolution as an artist and hints at the exciting new direction she is taking with Belle Sent Me. Its success is likely to set the stage for the rest of the album and cement Madera’s place in the music industry as a rising star.