I’m not surprised to read that Madeleine Howard has previously released a ‘stunning acoustic rendition of Ladyhawke’s My Delirium’, as NZM has previously reported about the Christchurch-based songstress, her voice is plenty strong enough.
But for review purposes a much better fitting comparison is The Cranberries’ late frontwoman, Dolores O’Riordan, who had that enchanting ability to shapeshift within a single word. It’s that pitch fluctuating vocal mode that recommends this debut EP’s powerful, energetic opening single No More for commercial radio play. Written in her student days after being ghosted by a guy, the song has a universal message around the hurt of young love being spurned, and the learning that comes from it.
In Missing Pieces, Howard is less the fierce rock frontwoman, more a thoughtful singer-songwriter type (‘Will it all make sense soon?’), albeit backed by a great band. It clips along, her confident voice easily standing out above a torrent of rhythm, as much due to quality production as its innate strength.
In Reaching Out, the singer is getting back in touch with a former flame, without malice, just to see how they are and mention that, ‘I’m stronger because of you.’ This is Howard being questioning and vulnerable, which again she pulls off readily, aided by a strong rhythmic arrangement.
Song For You is the most delicate of the EP’s four songs, just voice and acoustic guitar picking a gentle tone of lament. ‘You don’t even see me standing here… Your eyes on her instead of me.’
As a taster for a new songwriting talent, you may not have yet heard, ‘Just Reaching Out’ is a laudable success. Four different songs, each with a recognisable universality in the lyrical message, delivered by a fantastic voice, thoughtfully supported by the smart production of Nomad‘s Will McGillivray and some fine musicianship. Okay, so she is from Hawkes Bay, but Madeleine Howard can be added to that long list of great female musical talent that Christchurch has provided us.