American mother and son duo Madisen Ward & The Mama Bear are one of the most rare and mesmerising musical combinations to appear in the contemporary music world. Their debut album Skeleton Crew is a beautiful collection of acoustic blues that houses brilliant storytelling and musical ingenuity. With tracks that are so lyrically raw that they physically garner a response, their haunting vocals and musical sound is beautifully bittersweet.
This album is with a diverse collection of musical tales mixed with explosive guitar accompaniments and vocal dexterity. Live By The Water is a great example of this, as the introductory track explores a punchy guitar strum with Ward’s heavy vocals. Silent Movies fastens the pace and does so with a catchy melodic motif and punchy rhythm.
Down In Mississippi is one of the best tracks of the album as it interplays with a violin melody and showcases both Ward and Mama Bear’s vocals. The track is very pastoral and it is a real treat to hear Mama Bear’s vocals and their lovely harmonising. Whole Lotta Problems plays with a humorous call and response between the duo and the humorous banter in the song is very entertaining.
However, the duo reach greater heights when they tackle melancholy tales that are so brutally honest and dark that they make you feel uneasy. Don’t fret, this is what good music should always do – make you respond. Dead Daffodils is the greatest example of the duo’s success in doing this, with a very sad tale where Ward’s vocals really shine. This song is filled with sorrow but just so strangely evocative. This idea is again explored in Undertaker and Juniper that speaks of a doomed love in a strange upbeat way. Sorrows and Woes is a fun finish to the album with a interplay between vocals and guitar melodies.
Overall, this album is a great debut that catches the raw and mesmerising sound of Madisen Ward & The Mama Bear. No doubt, the duo would be at their best live – but nevertheless this album is a great taste of the lasting bond that glows in their music. Their atmospheric sound is a pure delight to listen to and their haunting tracks are just heart-wrenchingly incredible.