Jaye Madison’s new EP MIRЯOR: Vision is a luxuriant and expansive collection with impressive scope despite its brevity. Twin sisters Madison and Jordan Skinner accomplish in four tracks what takes many other bands and solo artists upwards of ten to twelve songs to realize. Anyone looking for rollicking honkytonk or pop rock with a cowboy hat will find the sister’s material lacking. This doesn’t mean the Texas natives look askance on writing accessible material; they aim for broad acceptance with these tunes. The key, however, is that they achieve that goal without ever diluting their integrity in the process.
“Peace of Mind” illustrates that. MIRЯOR: Vision’s first song is, arguably, the best-developed piece featured on the EP. Their mastery of dramatic songwriting architecture is clear from beginning to end and never strikes a false note. You can’t help but feel a bit agog at the way Jaye Madison accumulates this song rather than playing all of their cards at once. Opening with voice and piano working in tandem with one another soon gives way to percussion and guitar weaving in and out of the mix. Grandeur results. It never sounds ham-fisted or crassly obvious, however.
They move into lighter territory with the second track. “Ride or Die” wears its ambitions like a loose garment and sparkles with effervescent affection. It’s musically solid and favors a distinctly Americana slant, as opposed to the singer/songwriter, conceits overflowing from the EP opener. Love songs are, of course, a tried and true standard of popular music and they’d be foolish to not take their own swing at the form. Jaye Madison never succumbs to tired cliches though and the sunshine filling every passage of this track contrasts well with the preceding tune.
“Plot Twist” will be MIRЯOR: Vision’s peak moment for many listeners. Their lyrical acumen scales new heights with this track, rife with metaphors, and it even opens the possibility for multiple interpretations. It’s a rare song, particularly these days, that encourages the audience to share in the creative act with the songwriters rather than maintaining the customary distance between singer and spectator.
Jaye Madison brings down the final curtain with “Middle Name”. The vocal harmonies Jordan and Madison achieve during this song are among its unquestioned highlights and few listeners will complain about how their voices pair with the song’s piano playing. The sisters have a real touch with ballads reaching far beyond the cookie-cutter approach so common with this type of material. Their ability to balance a personal touch with universal resonance is perhaps the crowning factor separating their material from garden variety efforts in this style.
MIRЯOR: Vision is an excellent sophomore effort from Jaye Madison and achieves notable vocal and musical diversity on a small canvas. The second of three EP releases that, taken together, form the duo’s full-length debut has every bit as much imaginative firepower as its predecessor and bodes well for the tandem’s future. If you haven’t yet heard Jaye Madison’s work, the time is ripe for an introduction you won’t soon forget.