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“John Henry is the guy next door that’s cool and chill. Always easy and friendly. …


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Jesse Lynn Madera’s new lyrical and piano-driven record, Fortunes, may be reminiscent of Tori Amos or a new age Kate Bush, but she’s very much her own artist. From its swelling string arrangements by Stevie Blacke (Pink, Rihanna, Chris Stapleton), to its Cohen-esque lyrics, the album has an otherworldly, mystical feel. Fortunes also features two amazing duets — one with Australian-born, LA-based musician, Joel Taylor, and the other with actor/musician John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Deadwood, The Sessions). Here’s a conversation with Madera about the new record.

Where did the name for your album Fortunes come from?

Well the joke in my head is that it cost me fortunes to make because I wound up having it mixed four times! But here’s how it really happened: I was in Ryan Hewitt’s studio finishing up the final mixes, and we took a coffee break. I’d been racking my brain for titles, and blurting them out during the session, each one met with a sort of lukewarm response. I went out for a walk and tried looking at street signs — nope, nothing there. The cover art designer and I had also sort of hit a wall with the artwork. Nothing was really doing it for me. Suddenly I realized that the answer was literally right in front of me! It really is true that when we squeeze a problem too tight we narrow our vision. I had to relax to see it. I knew my song “Fortunes” was going to be the closer on the album, because it represented the conclusion of a chapter for me, one in which I’d been paralyzed with anxiety about my work. The ending of the song sounds like I’m walking off into a mystical sunset, it gives the feeling of a fading out or an ending that is really a ‘to be continued.’ There’s a feeling of destiny. The path of the album arrives at “Fortunes,” so it made sense to have that be the title of the project. Also, there’s an otherworldly feel to the record, so giving it a mystical name seemed appropriate. While I was making the album I had some tarot readings done, and they were a big part of me pushing through when the process felt overwhelming. The portrait of me on the cover (painted by Katie Crawford) is based on the Queen of Wands from the tarot deck, which kept showing up in my readings. Basically, when the idea came, it came full on. I saw the artwork and the title all at once, and it was a delightful “duh!” …


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When you see him onstage along with Daryl Hall, he represents one half of arguably the most successful duo in pop music history. John Oates knows how to be a rock star. Since the mid-1970s he has traveled the world and played before millions of fans, helping to craft a musical tapestry that has become a timeless soundtrack for generations old and new.

But there’s another side to this cultural craftsman that is less about hit records more about digging deep into the foundational layers of American music. When John Oates formed the Good Road Band a number of years ago (taking the name from his well-received Good Road to Follow” solo album,) he emerged wearing a number of new hats, including musicologist, raconteur and historian. …

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