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Madison Cunningham: Five Essential Albums

Madison Cunningham (photo by Claire Marie Vogel, PR)

Madison Cunningham (photo by Claire Marie Vogel, PR)


Madison Cunningham's new album, Revealer, arrives on September 9 via Verve Forecast — and it's her most ambitious project to date. The Californian singer, songwriter, and guitarist has already established herself in Americana and folk circles with flair, nominated for a 2020 Grammy for her 2019 debut album, Who Are You Now, and again in 2022 for the extended edition of her covers collection, Wednesday. Throughout the summer, she's released a handful of singles from Revealer in the lead up to its release, from the grungy blues of "Hospital" to the dreamy introspection of "Life According to Raechel," which offers a fascinating glimpse into the new record's eclectic moods, modalities, and overall moxie.

Cunningham, who has visited FUV in the past for a Rockwood Music Hall concert (which included, during soundcheck, a poignant cover of Joni Mitchell's "California" for FUV's "The Joni Project"), agreed to pull together a "Five Essential Albums" for us — a list of albums that encompass a kind of Revealer family tree, as she explains:

Madison Cunningham: Five Essential Albums:

These five records were lifelines during the making of Revealer. I rarely had the stomach to listen to anything else throughout the process. They each possess something I wanted this album to take on in terms of fearlessness, honesty, and world building:

XTC, Apple Venus Volume I
This record is the complete package. It truly is its own universe, overflowing with playful imagery, chord changes, sounds and arrangements. It completely satisfies my musical sweet tooth. I came back to this record anytime I felt myself going stagnant.

Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
This is another record I kept coming back to. It’s just as playful as it is honest. Sentiment-wise, he never pumps the breaks, just allows the veil to become more and more translucent, while every musical choice succeeds at telling the story better. He tapped into grief in a way I hadn’t heard anyone do so boldly before. It very much gave me permission to write a song called "Life According to Raechel," that is on the record.

Björk, Post
In terms of courage, no one possesses more than Björk. Her vocals and melodies are so powerful, like a rock shattering a window. It gives you direct insight into everything she’s singing about. I wanted to take chances like her, and let myself walk the high wire. Musically, vocally, thematically.

Latin Playboys, Dose 
I look up to this record for its maximum-cool factor and intentionality when it comes to guitar tone and drum sounds. It feels so liberated and unencumbered by itself. When I allow myself time to sit down and fiddle with sounds, I think of this record and its unbridled curiosity and patience.

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
George is one of my all time favorite guitar players. So effortlessly innovative and himself. Threading grit with the whimsical. I looked to this record for that beautiful marriage of things.

- Madison Cunningham
August 2022

Madison Cunningham supports Mt. Joy at The Rooftop at Pier 17 on September 8 and 9.