A musician and a muckraker at heart, Jay Madera writes songs in much the same way a journalist puts together investigative stories: by observing, connecting the dots, and believing in the need for the story to be heard. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Madera’s music is not merely a byproduct of a crazed ambition to make sense of the world; it’s a distillation of how he sees the world, in all of its beauty and blight.
Music has long been in Madera’s life, from hating piano lessons at a young age to picking up a guitar as any moody teenager does. Since then, his instrumental talent has allowed him to hone his songwriting chops and offer worldly explanations with earnest, meticulous lyrics. His songs are raw and anthemic in tone while being melodically empowering and textured.
Jay Madera evokes many troubadours of the present and decades past, recalling a street-smart Ben Folds, Elvis Costello with more soul, and the cutting poetics of Father John Misty. Madera unfurls pastiches of personal experience in his songs, merging cultural observations, examinations of modern semiotics, and universal emotions to connect with audiences.
Armed with his piano, guitar, and thoughts on the contemporary social experience, Madera displays a versatility that echoes his diverse emotional range. His affinity for dense and rollicking calls-to-arms complements his ability to craft other stirring, sparser works that reveal a journey toward self-improvement amidst an era of infinite content and mixed messages.
The stories he writes blend wit, eloquence and self-awareness to make his personal snapshots of the mundane both meaningful and universally relatable, as heard in “You Make Sense”, which earned Madera first prize in the 2016 American Songwriter lyric contest. Now, Jay Madera is making his pain, his passion, and his politics public knowledge, writing to take aim at the balances of power in all of our lives.
-Kevin Michell, Cincy Magazine