Jesse Lynn Madera has seen her new album rise up the charts
Hailing from the rolling hills of West Virginia, Americana singer/songwriter Jesse Lynn Madera is known for infusing poetic words of wisdom with a blend of part country, part soul, to create memorable songs.
Now living in Nashville, Madera recently released her third album, “Fortunes,” comprised of tracks with folk-tinged country melodies, and in just its first couple of weeks, the record is already climbing the Billboard charts.
Originally, Madera hoped to make an album of all duets, but logistically, that proved to be tougher than she envisioned.
“I had the idea to create a duet album years ago and started recording a couple, but I realized pretty quickly I had bitten off more than I could chew in terms of trying to work with different guys for each song,” she said. “It was a scheduling nightmare and some guys showed up more prepared than others, so I ended up taking a pause with the idea.”
Instead, “Fortunes” features two of her favorite duet partners, with Madera teaming with critically acclaimed actor John Hawkes on “You, With the Sullen Eyes” and Australian-born singer/songwriter Joel Taylor on “Sentimental.”
Hawkes was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “Winter’s Bone,” and has also been in several bands throughout his career. Taylor was a friend who Madera had done “many jam nights and camp fire singalongs,” with, and both men were happy to duet with her.
The rest of the album is comprised of tunes that Madera described as being “big cinematic songs with ethereal string arrangements which all existed in the same world,” and she fused them together to create the final product.
“I’m really happy how it all turned out,” she said. “It took a couple of years to get everything dialed in the way I wanted it, but I love that they come across as these ‘lullabies for grownups.’ You can just lay back and close your eyes and they can take you into another world. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do."
The name “Fortunes” comes from one of the singles on the album, and Madera liked it as a title because she envisioned early how the cover would look—something like a tarot card.
Madera has been surrounded by music her whole life, with family gatherings often centering around song and expression. She learned piano at a young age and developed a deep love for poetry as she grew up. The combination of writing and music led her to study theater at NYU, followed by a more intensive music program.
“I was an MTV baby, and from the time I was 3, I was watching all those videos in the ’80s and I fell in love with Pat Benatar, and I used to tell people I was going to be her when I grew up,” Madera said. “I went to one of those ‘Fame’ performing arts high schools, but I was too shy to go for singing or piano, so I studied acting and theater. That helped me get more comfortable on stage, and I don’t know if I would have been as comfortable as I am now if I didn’t have that training.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting on hold her plans for a tour to support the album, Madera is at home in Nashville with her husband, actor Hemky Madera, kids and dog, hoping to get out and play this music live.
“I’m doing a lot of social media posts and trying to get people to listen to the album,” she said. “I think a good thing about this album is it sort of begs you to take a pause and listen to it. It’s only seven songs and meant to be listened to together. They all fit together to make sort of a painting. It’s a nice album to listen to when you don’t have anything else to do.”
Madera revealed she is working on a special cover song and has been in contact with some musicians from different parts of the country, who will join her in playing the song virtually. She’s excited about releasing that sometime soon.
“I’m also already working on some new albums,” she said. “I’d like to do one of all cover songs and there will be some other stuff coming up. I may drop a single sometime this single that’s more Americana-sounding stuff. I’m looking forward to it.”