A Review of Maddie Medley's "Coming of Age pt. 1" by June Kolentus

Maddie Medley’s newest EP, Coming of Age pt.1, was released into the world last month, a little over two years after her first release, the single, “Coming of Age,” which she has now labeled as a demo. This first release left her listeners eager for more; she successfully melded her deepest insecurities and questions about the patterns of life with a musical tone abounding with power and confidence, providing us with a glimpse into the dualities that make up the process of growing into yourself. Her lyrics touched us with their vulnerability, yet her strong voice reminded us that she was still confident in the person she was growing into. Now, with the release of her first EP, she develops this story of her own experiences coming of age, building upon new stories in the process.

The EP begins with the softest song off the EP, a love song entitled “Buzz.” This heartfelt piece brings meaning to the new feelings she is working through, which are described plainly in the lyrics, “I don’t think I have ever been in love like this before.” As she grapples with her own fresh emotions, she begs for reciprocation with the lyrics of the chorus, singing, “Please get too close to me.” The instrumentals that follow this line bring a whimsical essence to this portion of the song, and remind us of our own feelings we have had falling in love in the past- all of the childlike naivety, wonder, and joy. This element of nostalgia connects Medley to her audience in a meaningful way, and allows “Buzz” to serve as a universal reminder of the beauty of relationships and first experiences past. As Medley comes of age, she has this feeling to hold onto and reminisce upon.

“Edith,” the second song on the EP, marks a shift in pace from “Buzz” and exchanges the lightness and nostalgia for firmness and courage. The guitar line that begins the song follows throughout, and gives the impression of someone marching, magnifying the theme of determination which is present in the lyrics. “Edith” applauds the strength of the women who shaped Medley’s life, referring to them each as “firecrackers,” and expresses the importance of learning confidence as a woman. Throughout the song, she sings of the lessons and morals that she would instill in her daughter (Edith) if she were to have one, and they seem to reflect the values that she herself has had to learn through the process of growing up. Medley asserts that she will, “teach Edith to fight” and “teach her how to navigate the big world in the dead of night.” Here, she draws upon the strength of her role models as an example of not only who she wants her daughter to be, but of who she wants to be as well. Medley also expresses hope that her daughter will “fall in love with herself” and “know her worth,” goals that all people struggle with from time to time. “Edith,” a feminist anthem, is thus able to inspire self-love in others while providing Medley with the opportunity to work through her journey of establishing self-confidence.

Coming of Age pt.1 closes with a remastered version of the song we all fell in love with two years ago, Coming of Age, from which the EP derives its name. This version adds even more energy to the already impassioned melodies of the demo, beginning with a crack of drums before Medley’s voice comes in. While her lyrics may express some doubt or discomfort, such as “Are you sure it’s supposed to feel this way?” and “Can somebody tell me how to figure this out,” her steady voice reminds us that she will find a way to seize control of her own situation. The buildup of instruments running into the chorus, most notably the drums, captures the fire of her vocals above it and indicates that she is learning how to be sure of herself and her emotions. This song envelops the themes of growth and change present throughout the EP and leaves us with a question as it wanes: Are we sure it’s supposed to feel this way?

Everyone faces their own challenges coming of age, and each person makes sense of their world in a unique manner, but this EP allows us all to compare the battles and joys we find along the way with those of another, ultimately bearing the purest form of human connection. We are supposed to feel this way, this EP affirms; our strengths and uncertainties alike are what make us human.

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