Staff Picks

Madi Diaz - Same History, New Feelings

These four renovated songs — once tear-stained journal entries — represent the breadth of experience, and the strength derived from re-shaping the story you tell yourself.

Holler Country Music

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When Whitney Houston first recorded ‘I Will Always Love You’ for the film The Bodyguard in 1992, Dolly Parton’s cornerstone hit song expanded unexpectedly from its initial sentiments.

The thought of this very phenomenon is where Madi Diaz’s new EP project began. Same History, New Feelings pulls four essential tracks from 2021’s History Of A Feeling LP to explore their emotional bounds in a fresh context.

Same History, New Feelings features four fellow female artists with whom she shares reciprocal respect: Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen, Courtney Marie Andrews and Natalie Hemby.

Starting off with an album favorite, Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) bumps the previously benign ‘Resentment’ up, well over room temperature. Brad Cook’s productive touch torches the once laid soundscape, and Crutchfield’s bolstering vocal support allows Diaz to reclaim power in a painful situation. The first time she sang it, it induced sorrow — almost hoping anger might take her out of her misery. Here, with Crutchfield’s help, Diaz derives the strength to fight back.

‘History of a Feeling’ peels back the lush layers of instrumentation on the intro track, leaving behind a sparse soundscape. Subtle pops of paranormal production between verses align with the thematic haunting by a lost love:

Hemby’s vocals wrap around Diaz’s hysteric harmonies like a warm embrace, encouraging her throughout the confessional track. Like a dark winter night that eventually gives way to a bright spring morning, the new rendering of the original title track tells the same sorrowful story of loss. But this time, Diaz is unashamed by the weight of this emotional anchor.

Like the EP title, ‘New Person, Old Place’ explores the implications of incongruity. A few sonic adjustments transform the painstaking fight song to a deep, cleansing breath; Courtney Marie Andrews’ angelic vocals adding levity as Diaz ascends the steady instrumental incline. Combined, their harmonic strength is potent — just the ingredient Diaz needed for the realized rendition. Having malted the weaker shell, the new rejuvenating song celebrates opportunity for growth.

The final track, ‘Forever,’ Diaz alleviates some of the pain from droning percussion-driven original version, opting to build an alternative foundation atop gentle piano. Instead of acoustic strumming, this version opens with the dim flickering of Diaz’s humble vocal offerings, bolstered from her piano bench. Konrad Snyder’s sub bass interlude mimics a syncopated 80s film soundtrack, bridging each poetic verse to the aching choral line: “You so casually say it's forever / You're saying it like it's whatever.”

Olsen steps in with her signature vibrato, fanning the flame that combusts fiery climax. “And in the moment you fooled me, you had me, you lost me forever,” the pair sings in arresting simpatico. Slight textural adjustments to the depressive bargaining ballad catalyze a more energetic outlook to empower those moving into the final phase of acceptance.

Diaz’s devastating experience is not discounted by the re-workings rendered for this project. Rather, by revisiting each of these tracks with talented friends bearing witness, Diaz is able to seek silver linings of her heartbreak from further down the line in her healing journey.

These four renovated songs — once tear-stained journal entries — represent the breadth of experience, and the strength derived from re-shaping the story you tell yourself. Both versions of each song are critical mile markers on a winding road of self-reflection. Diaz understands the vastly spanning healing spectrum and leaves intentional, hospitable space in her narratives; the inviting vacancy meets every listener exactly where they are.

Same History, New Feelings sees a dextrous storyteller honing her craft through an evolving lens. On paper, these songs are lyrically identical chronicles of a singular experience. But when infused with external input, these renderings arouse a fresh set of sentiments.

9/10

Madi Diaz's Same History, New Feelings EP is out on March 4 via ANTI-.