During her longest gap between albums to date, singer/songwriter Madi Diaz began working on her fifth LP, History of a Feeling, in 2018. A notably personal and forthright set of songs, it addresses a painful breakup, issues of identity surrounding the transitioning of her former partner, and even the centering of the events, which tended to relegate Diaz to a bystander role. When it came time to track the songs, she brought in Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Courtney Marie Andrews) to help with instrumentation and co-produce. An intimate work that resides between spare acoustic song and visceral indie rock, it's her first release for Anti-/Epitaph. History of a Feeling opens with its shortest song, the under-two-minute "Rage," a gentle acoustic guitar introduction that braces listeners with a soft-spoken "Forgive and forget; F*ck you, f*ck that." She moves quickly into identity issues and private spaces like bathrooms with the perplexed "Man in Me" ("Tell me now whose lips I was kissing"), which plugs into amplifiers without adding a rhythm section. After the cathartic, country-inflected "Crying in Public" and "Resentment," the rhythm section turns up on the explicit "Think of Me," which underscores angry sentiments with guttural guitar tones. Midway through the track list, the country-rocker "Woman in My Heart" stands apart with its live recording quality, while the self-conscious "Nervous" draws attention for its pop songwriting strengths. A hooky, wordy rock tune, the latter is one of the few tracks here that's well-suited for playlisting outside of the album's context, though each song stands on its own structure-wise. Both occasionally cringy and refreshing for its willingness to express bitterness, History of a Feeling's greatest strength lies in its emotional honesty. Also tender and loving at times, it closes on the poignant, piano-based duet "Do It Now," which makes a plea for putting all cards on the table.
History of a Feeling Review
by Marcy Donelson