Soulful Soul-Searching in MAWD’s “Dark Room”

by guest contributor Dana Silverman

There’s adopting a pseudonym, and then there’s making a name for yourself. California singer-songwriter Madeline Matthews did both last year when she released her debut EP as MAWD, building an artistic persona around a raw, emotional voice.

That voice breathes life into the bluesy atmosphere of her latest single, “Dark Room,” once again earning comparisons to Karen O. and Janis Joplin. Sounding seductive, wary, anguished, and resigned all within the span of three minutes, here MAWD truly delivers a performance.

Production by Josiah Mezzaschi (Rilo Kiley, The Jesus and Mary Chain) and Brian Lucey (Black Keys, The Kills) helps the song retain a certain grit ready-made for the crackle of a vinyl record. The scattershot rhythm, minor chords, and slinking baseline evoke images of dark, decrepit bars and lonely alleys that seem emptier without the source of MAWD’s salvation (or destruction). Her soulful delivery blends the downbeat verses and defiant chorus without sacrificing momentum.

A performer that can completely transport you somewhere else with her voice is a rare gift, so hoping that MAWD continues making such bold, passionate music seems greedy. But if the artistic chops she demonstrates on “Dark Room” are any indication, it’s definitely not too much to ask.

“Dark Room” video directed by Madeleine Matthews

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