Album Review: Howie Day, “Madrigals EP” (2003)

I became a fan of Howie Day’s after buying his sophomore release Stop All The World. After falling in love with that CD, I decided to go back and take a listen to some of Day’s earlier work.

I found myself at the Amazon page for an EP Day released before Stop called Madrigals. The EP didn’t boast much at first glance; three demo tracks and two live recordings. Then I realized that the CD had two discs, and the other was a DVD of a performance in New York City. I quickly made the purchase and ended up being more than happy with my decision.

The music disc starts off with the title track, Madrigals. The s ong begins with a nice beat, and then fades into guitar and vocals. Though the lyrics are a bit vague (lines like “You told everyone, they know everything is real/And your madrigals and your silver rings” don’t really give any depth to the song) it’s a very nice track to listen to. It has sort of a “lazy summer night” vibe to it that works well.

You & A Promise is a demo of a track that was later included on Stop. I can say I prefer the album version much more, and it wasn’t even one of my favorite tracks. On the demo version, there’s a very long interlude of the twangy guitar that I didn’t like to begin with, and the sound is very low quality and scratchy. This is probably the only “bad” track on the album, but I honestly think I don’t like it because of my own personal taste.

Much more polished is Ghost, which is reminiscent of Madrigals. This is another great track. The song slowly fades into some synthesizers and light guitar before finally giving way to Day’s vocals. Lyrically, this song is a lot better than the two others, as Day sings about missing someone and being left with only the memories you had with them. Day’s vocals are also quite beautiful and soothing, which help make this track one of the best.

Howie Day 2013

I’m going to skip to the DVD, where we are presented with a 30 minute performance that includes Ghost, Madrigals, Sorry So Sorry, and Bunnies.  Day’s live performances really blew me away. He performs his songs alone- no backing vocalists, band members or anything- just him and his guitar. By using samplers and effect pedals, Day records his own music as he goes along and loops it to create the sounds of an entire band.

Bunnies is the first example of Day’s artistry, as he starts the song by lightly tapping on his guitar, and recording the sound, then looping it back, strumming, recording that, and looping it back as he moves on to the next element. The song is nice to listen to (again, the lyrics, which are pretty much nonsensical, aren’t the strength of the song), but the live performance is even better to watch. Day is amazing to watch as he goes back to his effect pedals, and plays the guitar and sings- I was simply floored after watching him.

Day uses the same method in the rest of the live performances as well. Sorry So Sorry has a bit of looping in it (though not as much as Bunnies), but is more of a subdued track. This song sounds the most similar to the songs on Stop, and is a nice, breezy track.

Madrigals is quite a treat. The demo tracks are really nice, and Day’s live performances are simply amazing. I was so impressed, in fact, that I played the DVD track of Bunnies for my final project in my Music Appreciation class and even managed to convert my Professor to Day. I’m not usually one to purchase EPs, but this is well worth it.

Rating: 5_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Madrigals
2. You And A Promise
3. Ghost
4. Bunnies
5. Sorry So Sorry

Sorry So Sorry


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