Madeleine Roger
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Madeleine Roger

Winnipeg, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF | AFM

Winnipeg, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2016
Duo Folk Roots

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"Stepping Into The Solo Light"

In July, local singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger took the stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival as part of Roger Roger — a folk/roots duo she and her twin brother, Lucas, put together a few years back — and performed a new song, one she said would be part of her upcoming solo release.

The deceptively sweet-sounding track, 60 Years More, is packed with cutting lyrics: "I’m just a girl, haven’t got a clue, somebody fill me in where a man got to, help me with my microphone, help me lift this curse, help me wrap my head around this verse."

The track started as a joke to make herself feel better after a frustrating experience at a gig, Roger later explains, but instantly evolved into something incredibly emotional and has since become one of the most important tracks she has in her catalogue.

"It just touches on a truth for me that is so real and takes up a lot more stake in my life than I ever would have thought, and then seeing it on paper and hearing the recordings made me really realize, ‘Wow, this is truly a part of my experience,’ whether or not I want that to be true or whether or not I want to admit that to myself," she says.

"We want to feel like we’re strong and fearless and unaffected, but then you look back on your life and there’s a lot of times where I’ve had to really prove myself, or really had to stand up for myself when I shouldn’t have to."

It’s a distinctly more political, feminist point of view from Roger, whose debut solo effort, Cottonwood — which will be released Oct. 26 — is full of tracks that highlight her strong, female voice as she explores ideas of humanity and human relationships, her experience in the wilderness as she penned some of the new songs, and her career shift from theatre artist to musical artist.

"I think I’m more politically inclined now as a solo artist than I have been in more collaborative projects because it’s just me on the line and I can be as opinionated as I want. I don’t have to pull anyone else into it," Roger says.

This project also allowed Roger implement gender parity during the recording process; half of the musicians, producers and audio engineers identify as female.

"My whole life I’ve been looking at the liner notes of albums and so often you see this obvious lack of women in the recording studio on the tech side... and there’s never anything against that, but there is a problem when there’s a complete lack of representation," she says.

"And it’s not that there’s people who aren’t capable or willing, I just think oftentimes the tops of the lists people go to for hiring are all men. I decided I didn’t want my album to have that characteristic, and I didn’t want to be able to complain about my own album and a lack of women. So I really worked hard to make sure there was some equality at the table."

For fans of Roger, Cottonwood will be a treat — the 11 tracks are thoughtful, deliberate and emotional and present the 26-year-old in a more mature, self-assured light, both as a songwriter and performer.

"I hope that the songs come across as genuine more than anything else, because for me, that’s the most important thing as an artist. I want my art to be genuine," Roger says.

"I hope it’s like an old friend to people." - Winnipeg Free Press


"Cottonwood - Madeleine Roger"

A kayaker, theatre artist, and one half of the Winnipeg folk duo (and twin-ship) Roger Roger, Madeleine Roger knows how to extend herself to gain momentum, and how to project her verity into the world. This — as well as her relationship to forces outside herself — is clear on her debut solo record, Cottonwood.

One of the joys of encountering a foray into solo artistry is having the chance to hear an artist's personal take on the world: music wrapped in their unique reality. There is no doubt that Roger has delved within herself to bring us Cottonwood, but she also reaches out to a Canadian canon of folk music. She draws influence from Joni Mitchell on the twisting melodic vocals and gentle acoustic plucking of "Soldier Song," then brings a bigger, more emotive groove that evokes a pared-back Kathleen Edwards on "Rough Hand."

Don't let the lineage pull from the modern nuance of the songwriting. The surface-level feminism of "60 Years More" cuts with hard-edged poetry: "I'm just a girl, haven't got a clue, somebody fill me in where a man got to," she sings, then later adds, heartbreakingly, "You don't have to say what you already show. / I was worthless, I was worthless, I was worthless." Bringing her word to action, Roger's Cottonwood was made with gender parity, meaning that half the producing, audio engineering, musicians and other artists identify as female.

Roger presents the beauty of the world alongside the storminess. "Take My Time" — her own personal manifesto — was written at a cabin built by her great-grandparents in Manitoba, and you can feel this relaxation within the natural again on the sunny and gentle "Cottonwood." But there is storm here too. "Lady Luck" uses strings and layers to create tension, while the lyrics draw images of wind and rain. If the clarinet trill on "Luckiest" feels like a gimmick, it's only because so much of this album plays wholly authentic.

Cottonwood is a glimpse into the machinations of someone who is attentive to the world around her: in the wilderness, on stage, in the present moment and in the past. It is thoughtfulness made concrete. - Exclaim!


"New Releases - Oct 26"

Artist: Madeleine Roger

Album: Cottonwood

Quick Description: Awesome Canadian folk music.

Why You Should Listen: This came out of nowhere and it's one of the best out there right now.

Overall Thoughts: One of the great continuing joys of doing this new release thing is tripping up on great albums and artists I would have never found otherwise. Enter Madeleine Roger, who had an album cover that looked interesting in my weekly release list and it turns out this is some really gorgeous, performative Americana-tinged folk out of Canada. I was in love in the album with the very first song, and my love only grew as the album continued. Easily one of the best of the week, if not longer, and a sharp reminder as to how well Canada is exporting its best folk music out as of late.

Recommendation: A must-listen this week. - If It's Too Loud


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Madeleine Roger is a contemporary folksinger from Winnipeg, Canada. While accompanying herself on acoustic guitar in multiple tunings, it is her artistry as a songwriter that can silence a room, uniting her captivating voice with vivid lyricism and a maturity beyond her years. A former thespian and a lifelong traveler, she is prone to absorbing stories and questioning the way that things are, creating songs with imaginative melodies and honesty that bares truths about being alive.

Madeleine co-produced and co-engineered her debut album Cottonwood (out Oct. 26, 2018) with Lloyd Peterson (The Wailin' Jenny's, The Weakerthans, James Keelaghan) at Paintbox Recording in Winnipeg. The album was proudly made with gender parity - half of the producing, audio engineering, musicians, and other artists identify as female. Written from Madeleine’s home in Winnipeg MB, and in a woodstove-heated cabin that her great-grandparents built in the Manitoba backwoods, Cottonwood combines the elegant storytelling of folk traditions with the grounded vibe of roots music. The album portrays her intuitive creativity; reflections on femininity and equality, the majesty of the wilderness, and the beautiful awkwardness of trying to love another person.

For the last three years, Madeleine has been appearing often in the folk/roots duo Roger Roger with her twin brother Lucas, performing at music festivals and stages across Canada and Europe (The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Summerfolk Festival, The Calgary Folk Club, Campbell Bay Music Festival, etc) in support of their debut album Fairweather which reached the No. 1 spot on the Canadian national folk/roots/blues charts and accolades overseas, garnering acclaim for its exceptional songwriting.

"Madeleine’s voice stays with you, reminiscent at times of a young Joni Mitchell."
- Mojo

"World-class music." - The Winnipeg Free Press

For The Extra Curious

Her years of theatre and travel consumed her from the age of 7 into the end of her degree in Theatre & Film when she finally picked up one of the many guitars lying around her home and started writing songs. A year later she quit theatre, falling hopelessly in love with song-craft and the endless possibilities of music. 

A lifelong history of singing in choirs, living rooms, musicals, and around bonfires has informed her current comfort on the stage, and the countless hours hanging out in the control room of her Dad's recording studios left an impression on Madeleine, growing up thinking that everyone talked about songwriting and album production at the dinner table.

She is an advocate for equality and the representation of women in the music industry, and has been involved in workshop discussions as a panelist, the Girl's Rock Camp in Winnipeg, and is actively working to get more women behind the board in recording studios.

"Madeleine’s theatre background lends itself well to writing folk songs that blend elements of real life with quirky fictional characters"
- Vue Weekly



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