By Chris Brown on May 18, 2017.
For Madeline Merlo the spring of 2017 marks the end of one musical chapter, the beginning of another and a little bit of crossover between the two.
The award-winning B.C. country music artist is putting her debut album behind her, releasing the first single from her untitled forthcoming followup album in the next week and touring once again with Dean Brody.
Merlo previously toured with Brody and Paul Brandt in the fall of 2015. She’s back with Brody on his Beautiful Freakshow tour that stops at the Canalta Centre on May 25.
Since that first tour she released her debut album, “Free Soul,” which spawned the hits “Whatcha Wanna Do About It” and “War Paint” and for the first time felt like a “working musician.” It was a year full of highlights.
“We played so much,” Merlo said last month. “Boots and Hearts was a bucket list festival for me, I got to play that one, something I will never forget. And the Calgary Stampede as well was a huge show, just something that I went to when I was younger and always wanted to play.”
That’s the end of one chapter. A second one begins with “Motel Flamingo,” the first single from her second album. No release date has been announced for the album.
Merlo has been actively promoting “Motel Flamingo,” available on digital outlets Friday, and on radio May 24. The song is described as a perfect reflection of Madeline’s unique tropical, bohemian vibe. Expect to hear it and more new music, and of course older material, next Thursday.
“Free Soul” is in her past but a part of the album will always be with her, that being “War Paint.” The song was written as an ode to a high school friend who suffered through mental illness in silence before taking her life just before graduation. The song was Merlo’s way of expressing what she wishes she’d said to her friend before it was too late and provoked an outpouring of support from listeners and fans.
“All the people that related to this song and made this song their anthem, that was definitely the most gratifying thing in my career thus far,” Merlo said.
Through the experience, from songwriting to public reaction, she came to a conclusion about how to help people dealing with mental illness.
“It’s just about listening and that’s all that they need. They don’t need our opinions, they don’t need to hear what we think or what we would do because we’re not in their shoes and mental health is such a difficult disease,” she said. “They just need you to listen and know that you’re there and will be waiting in the wings to fight for them.”
Merlo thinks “War Paint” is one of the reasons she’s back on tour with Brody, saying she was invited back shortly after Brody sent her an email detailing how much he loved song. Merlo wants to learn as much as she can from him off the stage — “I find he’s got a really unique perspective on writing music” — and on.
“He has a way of engaging the audience and captivating them and has them with him throughout the entire show. That’s what you want, you want people to be engage with you from the beginning of the show to the end I’m excited to learn this tricks of the trade,” she said.
Five quick questions
What is your dream collaboration? Oh boy. Me and Shania Twain.
What’s the best best concert you’ve ever seen? John Mayer
What is your pre-show routine? I do a little prayer, my band and I we take a shot of Jameson and just try to kind of remain calm. I like to make sure I’m in a peaceful place.
Dogs or cats? Dogs for sure. I have a dog.
What is one thing you’d like to accomplish in the next five years that would mean the most to you? It will happen within the next five years, I want to sing at the Grand Ole Opry, that’s definitely a life bucket list for me. It would be such an amazing opportunity.
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