Bill Madden

Samsara's Grip

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This insightful, socially active southern California-based singer/songwriter sets his agenda against mindless political correctness and cultural intolerance even before the music gets going. The cover of the disc features the performer by the pool as an innocent toddler, his future manhood dangling. The gentle shock value of this statement will hopefully solicit a few extra listeners to a deep exploration of social issues and observations that fully embrace the spirit of his two greatest influences, Buddhism and Bob Dylan. While his guitar-driven light rock and generally retro pop-soul elements are mostly engaging, they're merely the backdrop to lyrics that could double as crisp, sharp op-ed pieces. On the opener, "Om Tatsat," he advocates meditation as an antidote to the global horror he sees on CNN. Tracks like "Fools' Parade," "Murder," and "Consequence of War" decry the ongoing madness of today's world of foreign and domestic terror and cultural division, and listeners might wonder if there is relief in sight. Madden offers a few suggestions, like getting rid of material things and simply offering encouragement to those trying to follow their hearts. Gotta have a personal heartbreak tune in the mix as well, and the wrenching title cut is a classic lament that is a metaphor for trying to break free and soar above a world in chaos.

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