I had the privilege of being granted the blutooth DJ powers in Dad's car last Sunday, on the way to the 1000 steps in the Dandys. It's such a fashion statement now to exercise there... I felt conformist and normal. My purpose as a youth is to deliberately and openly go against any common grain of society, to assert my unique identity and prove to my parents that I'm nothing like them, before hitting my late 20's and realizing it's all an inconvenient untruth. So I wore a band t-shirt and shorts that aren't exercise-oriented. I strategically planned when I would nonchalantly stop walking, lean on a handrail and look at people going past in an indifferent enough way that they would know I'm a special snowflake.

Madeleine Duke - Madeleine Duke (EP)

Pat Wain - 16/02/2016

I'm really, really, really, ridiculously happy that it did. Madeleine Duke opens and closes on all the right notes, maintaining simplicity without lacking volume. 

We Holiday will take you 2-3 hours down the Victorian Coast for a bit of a weekend... or something. It's homely, rolling along like a nursery rhyme. The deep sense of security that comes with that also runs through the lyrics - talking of raising a glass to not being alone. When song's like this show up at the start of a record, I can't help but get a bit nervous that sadder music is just around the corner.

Under the intense burden of power and responsibility that came with having the soundtrack to our drive there under my command, I had a choice - act for thyself, or for the greater good. We've all been in the position before, do I play music that my fellow passengers want to hear, or should I go straight to Hanson? [I'm not the only one who still enjoys them, right?]

I chose the former, like the good person I am, and played a remix of Gonna Fly Now from the Rocky soundtrack. I knew they'd love it, especially Dad. He is proudly convinced that he was able to captain Mazenod Oldboys FC to 3 flags partly because he played the Rocky soundtrack in the rooms before each final. It's certainly not my kind of pre-exercise music. That's not to say I actually exercise frequently. I don't.

​But when I do, my motivational jam usually comes in the form of folk music. Slow, simple folk shit... with like 2-3 instruments max and vocals that would put a baby to sleep or good enough to please 500,000 people in Central Park. Listening to that when I'm walking outside (the only acceptable form of exercise in my life) makes the air a bit fresher and makes me walk a little faster. That's the most motivating thing to listen to.

So, since it is so pleasing to my special snowflake core to find new folky folk, it was especially motivating to have Madeleine Duke's self-titled EP handed to me. It is a free-flowing four track delight of uncomplicated music with complicated sentiments, released in September of last year.

I'm ashamed that I didn't know about it sooner. Duke provides the vocals on track 2, Weirdo's Walk, of The Finks killer (like, super-killer) 2015 album Lucklaster. I've spent 12 months exalting my love of that record to anyone willing or unwilling to listen, and furthermore have stated time and time again that Weirdo's Walk is the highlight of it. Madeleine Duke on that song takes the intuitive musicianship of Oliver Mestitz to a slightly different plateau of repose.

So, I'm ashamed because I apparently lacked the initiative to go looking for any other music by or involving Duke. As if that would have been hard in the age of information. My excuse is that on Lucklaster the credit is to Maddie Duke and in the wider world of music she goes by Madeleine Duke. Weak excuse I know but long story short - by the good will of others her EP ended up on my record player.

Auchrannie is warm... but I have literally no idea what it's about. As much as I try to decipher the lyrics, I get lost time and time again in the gentleness of the guitar and Madeleine Duke's smooth, free-flowing voice. It sounds honest, affectionate and cheerful. Whiskey gets another shout-out on this track as well, after getting a mention in We Holiday, so it must be a happy song. Whiskey always appears in happy songs.

Here's a haiku about Auchrannie;

Fun warm guitar song,

I don't get it but it's k,

Because whiskey yum.

To me, Auchrannie is the musical triumph of the EP. Lyrically though, A Drunken Bee is in a field/class/weight division of it's own. It is my favourite story - an unexpected guest spreads an infection of insecurity, negative thoughts an inner doubts. Through a new set of analogies in the same fashion as the previous two songs on this EP, Duke converges towards coming to peace with the burden of voices that come from you but are not yours.

If The Flowers Knew is a killer closing note - and an apt one for a short EP like this. By refraining from self-indulgence and limiting the record to 4 tracks, I get the feeling that Madeleine Duke has gilded her music. That doesn't sound right but I can't explain it in another way (I mean like she's given her work a silver lining, but the phrase 'silver lining' is normally in reference to something negative... which this EP isn't). I know - she has dipped her 4 songs in special sauce, twice for good measure, instead of wasting money on twice as many nuggets and not having enough sauce for any of them.

​I'm relieved that I was wrong when I suspected a record of sad songs after hearing We Holiday. Sad music isn't bad at all, but if it were mournful enough that I couldn't add it to my special snowflake rare-exercise playlist then I would have been a little bit disappointed. I really hope to come across more of Madeleine Duke's music in the future, or at least more that is just as good. Go here to hit up the EP, it's good for you.