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So what’s it like to be the opening act for a legendary British Invasion band who once had the 2nd #1 single behind The Beatles?
I asked Nashville-based singer-songwriter Jesse Lynn Madera that question when we spoke earlier this week. Madera, on tour in Concord, NH with The Zombies, told me she was thrilled to be opening and is looking forward to a stop in Fall River Sunday, May 1 at the Narrows Center for the Arts.
“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll have dressing rooms that are really close by and have a little common area, I just really try to be like the quietest fly on the wall. Just listening to them talk, they’re always coming up with ideas for how to make the show better. They’re actively working on their craft – it’s pretty amazing to watch.”
“(Lead vocalist) Colin (Blunstone) really takes great care of his voice. His voice is like silk, they’ve all been really nice,” she added.
Although Madera has been a professional musician for several years, she’s learned a lot from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. “I started warming up my voice a little more,” she noted, something she learned from being around Blunstone. “I love being around people I can learn from. These guys are definitely that. There’s nothing stagnant or stale, and they’ve played so many shows, it’s remarkable to me how fresh they sound.”
“When I hear them talk, they’re usually talking about music,” Madera continued. “The other day, they were listening to old Beatles tracks, the individual tracks from Beatles albums, and breaking them down, paying their respects. Sometimes Rod (Argent) will pull something out, he’s always just thinking about the music, they’re always thinking and planning. They’ve all got really great voices.”
Speaking of great voices, be sure to click on the videos below and give Madera a listen. She grew up around country music, but her own style is difficult to categorize. While she does a commendable job on the country-twinged “Holy Water,” most of her recordings are more eclectic, like her 2021 release “Revel.”
On this tour, she’s channeling the upbeat mood of The Zombies. “I try to tease out the happier, more encouraging songs that I have,” she explains. “I tend to drift off into the sort of melodramatic Kate Bush kind of world sometimes, so it’s been fun for me to play some lighter songs. I’ve been opening with my song “Revel” and finishing with my song “Fortunes.”
So how does she describe her music?
“Somebody on my team has called it ‘avant pop,’ which I thought was really cool. It made me want to get a T-shirt that says ‘avant pop,’ so I liked the sound of that, but there’s definitely some Americana woven in there. It’s sort of like ‘I do what I want.’”
Her influences are certainly diverse. She blends pop, folk, blues, Americana, and jazz to create a singular sound. “I grew up hearing a lot of outlaw country, like the Highwaymen, and also some older country like Buck Owens and Hank Williams, and I’m still drawn to that. But I’m also drawn to sort of Meatloaf-type songs. I like the big dramatic stuff, so I don’t know how that all comes together, but I guess it does,” she explained.
We agree. Check out her music below, and be sure to get to the show on time to hear Madera sing. For tickets and more information on Sunday’s show, click here.