Music / Features
Track by Track:
Maddy Jane - Not All Bad Or Good
Words by Joshua Hicks
May 18th, 2020
Last month Maddy Jane dropped her highly anticipated debut album Not All Bad Or Good, a true whirlwind of emotion and genre. We had the pleasure of getting some insight into the phenomenal record from Maddy herself.
From the small island town of Bruny Island, Tasmania, Maddy Jane’s music is anything but small. The singer/songwriter has the Australiana storytelling of Paul Kelly and a vulnerability that can only come from a truly entuned artist. Maddy has a blend of indie rock, country, blues and even soul that is reminiscent of so many artists such as Courtney Barnett, The Middle Kids, Neil Young, The Band, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt.

The scotching debut album Not All Bad Or Good from Maddy Jane is an assembly of pop bops and heartfelt ballads. There is an old saying that "you have your whole life to write your first record" and this album truly feels like it’s packed with a lifetime of experience. Produced by Jackson Barclay (Vera Blue, Winterbourne, Wanderers) and Maddy herself, each song has a unique flavour, and has obviously been expertly crafted.

The opening track ‘I’m Hearing Ya’ is a bouncy little groove, with slightly contrasting lyrics that tackle Maddy’s frustration at not being heard and respected in the face of conflict. On ‘Perfection's a Thing and You’re It’, one of the singles of the album, Maddy jumps into her indie-rock shoes, with crunchy electric guitars and driving bass. ‘Say You Weren’t Mine’ is a soulful outpouring, with chorus-infused rhythm and lead guitar musings in the background which lends itself perfectly to possibly Maddy’s most impressive vocal performance of the album. ‘Femme’ tells of Maddy’s experience as a woman and the challenges faced by herself and others in society due to their gender. It’s a powerful admission of the shame and degradation women experience daily due to sexism and unhealthy expectations of femininity put upon them. ‘Something Old and Something New’ is an indie pop love song for a lover that came at the wrong time. Maddy’s singer/songwriter persona really shines here, and we can imagine her professing her feelings in her bedroom, just herself and a guitar.

‘The Other Day’ is a jangly indie rock track, with Maddy meandering through deadpan metaphors and witty rhymes. ‘Fuck You, I’m a Good Person’ is a personal favourite on the record. The track is flooded with chorused guitars and infectious harmonised vocals, and the venom that Maddy deliverers the line "fuck you, I’m a good person" is really just badass. ‘Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop’ slows the pace down with a sorrowful ballad, where Maddy’s raw vocals cuts through the mix. On ‘Thank You and Sorry’, another of the album’s singles, Maddy opens up about distrust in a relationship, and standing up for herself despite self-doubt and uncertainty. ‘Your Turn’ has Maddy challenge gender norms and the discomfort it causes some people when a person steps outside them. The final track of the record ‘Always Saying What They All Can’t Say’ is a truly heartbreaking song, where Maddy sings about her childhood trauma caused by physical abuse perpetrated by her father. Maddy pulls no punches, calling out victim blamers, and challenging the stigma surrounding victims speaking out against abuse.

The album is a rollercoaster of emotion and genre, a truly special listening experience. Maddy gave us some insight into the inspiration for each tracks, which you can read below.
I'm Hearing Ya

This song is that one for when they got you all wrong. This one is a pretty good all round example of my songwriting on this album in my opinion. It’s the showing of how obvious miscommunications can be and sometimes when you look at them simply. And when they get to a point, you can’t change people’s minds so why take that betrayal of them getting you all wrong and keep trying? It’s a good opening track for this album because it encapsulates the contradictions of in life like the title, Not All Bad Or Good.

Perfection's a Thing and You're It

Perfection is not a thing and you can’t be it so why aim for that?! For this song, I wanted to come from that sarcastic place of addressing that person who does think they’re perfect, and why that is a problem. But also empower because it seems so obvious when you put it like that and to love ourselves and accept our faults! Be the individual you are without worrying about anything else other than that. I really like the idea that the title and the song could come across as a love song, like I’ve found the perfect thing for me, but it’s actually completely sarcastic and saying that no one is perfect!

Say You Weren't Mine

This song is the sequel to ‘Thank You and Sorry’ - it’s one of the oldest songs for me, but was only released as a single late last year. This is the angry follow up, when the other track was so accepting and taking the high road. I didn’t think I would even record it when I wrote it because it was so angry and raw, but I started playing it live and it would get a response every time. We played this song supporting Harry Styles in New Zealand to a huge arena, it wasn’t out then either and the stadium filled up with phone lights and it was that song they responded too. Through playing this song live, it literally gave me the confidence to release it and own it and I’m grateful to the people who made this song theirs, before it was even out in the world. But I have realised that the contradiction of the ballad 6/8 timing and the angry lyrics and melody makes for a fun as sing along and a big empowering vibe.


The chorus line in this track - “I’m not trying to be, I’m just being” - I wanted to be that thing that explains it so simply that it’s seems stupid not to agree haha. But I feel like it’s an empowering line because it kind of says a lot of things but says, "I’m not trying to do anything, I’m just being who I’m meant to. Why would it be any different for me who’s just being, like you." This song was hard for me to write, I didn’t feel like it was completely done until we were in the studio about to record it, when I had just added the pre-chorus, that also becomes a bridge at one point, "we’ve come far, but we’re far from done" in it. And then it finally all came together.

Something Old and Something New

This song kind of came out all at once and was that mind flow narrative of knowing you’re in a bit of a spot with being confused towards a relationship and saying you wouldn’t let yourself get in that position, but you know you did, knowing subconsciously what really is going on. This song doesn’t have a chorus really and came out as this big constant build with little hooks and melodies throughout which really emphasises the narrative. This is one of my favourite songs I’ve written, its pure honest mind flow from a place that is relatable but also not often said out loud.

The Other Day

This song was written around the same time as 'Something Old and Something New' - it came as the one that was trying to hide feelings from myself I think, and nonchalantly address what I knew was going to happen in the situation I was in. It’s a "hey you know I see what’s happening here, ah well" song. It’s the "ok yep, bye!" song!

Fuck You, I'm a Good Person

I had that title written down for a while, I didn’t know if it was a title or just a lyric but when I first wrote it down it was like, "oh, that’s a bit hectic" but then I thought about it and was a hilarious contradiction that said so much, and in a beautifully Australian way. I came up with the melody and lyrics on “you go, I’ve gone, I’m awake now” and was singing that over and over again and again going "what is this??!" I imagined that kind of choir of low voices and almost a Gorillaz's 'Feel Good Inc.' vibe in my head, that inspired a bit of the vibe of this song. But in such a me way, it kind of came out old school and indie rock, and obviously a bit sarcastic. It’s the Maddy Jane version of Gorillaz?! Haha.

I love this song for its wackiness, especially Dan, my drummer’s mad low vocals that became a star in this recording haha and for simply stating, “fuck you! I’m a good person!” You can’t argue with that. Or can you?

Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop 

This song title I’d had for a while before I wrote this song and knew what it would be about or even if I would write it. I got this title from talking to an old friend on the phone, who’s last name was, Bishop. A poem book was open on the table while I was talking to her called Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop. I said to her while on the phone like "aw get this, there’s a poem on the table called this! You always call me crazy because I’m a muso and that’s crazy, I’m Crazy Jane and I’m talking to the Bishop!" So after that long winded explanation, the song came out a couple of years later and became about those people I had to let go because it got toxic, because I couldn’t help anymore, because I had to let them go - for both parties, because me trying to help was making it worse, and it was then hurting me. That friendship the title came from, being one of them that I had to walk away from. It was my plea to let me go and my side of what I went through and why I did let go. “You can’t save them all, that’s what unfairness is for.”

Thank You and Sorry 

This song has been out for a couple of years now but had to be on the album. It is part of the journey of all of these songs collectively for me, and as I said earlier, is the sister song to ‘Say You Weren't Mine’. 'Thank You and Sorry' came out of me nearly all at once and perfectly described how I was feeling at the time - "thanks for the time we had, what I got from it, and sorry it didn’t work and that it’s over." And that song has been one of mine that has resonated so much, I’m so proud of what this song is and has done for people that have listen to it. It was one of my first really honest and raw songs I put out there that is still a favourite that I’ve written.
Your Turn 

'Your Turn' is jokingly addressing some gender norms that can be quite the opposite, so it’s funny they’re gender norms in the first place. I wrote this generally about how I was feeling like that at this point, not much was happening for me romance-wise and if I wanted something to, I had to initiate it. It was that sassy "come and give it a go, your turn to make a move" but still with a feminist edge. “I know I’m a badass bitch but I’m really not that scary” is a big joke of a line with a bit of truth in there. And the music I think gives off jokey vibes but it’s not a joke which is totally it.

Always Saying What They All Can't Say 

This was a song I didn’t think I’d write but came out right at the end of the writing process of this album. I knew I wanted to somehow address my issues with my father and physical abuse, because I felt responsibility to come out with that and to be able to use that to help. So it came out addressing my brother, who was the one who saw it for what it was, and stopped it, which I realised was the way to address it, he saw it, in the moment and stopped it. I was able to write about it and tell my side and how I was a victim, while thanking my brother for being the good in that situation and how much that meant to me, and just that how he instinctively viewed it was that it was wrong. This was a hard thing to do but I’m glad I could address this. As the most healing I do is when I get it out through song. That song I did for me, the most, but at the same time for everyone the most. That chorus line and title really sums up me I think too; it’s one of my favourite lines of the album.

Not All Bad or Good is out now - stream the full album here.