I’m a sucker for a concept album. From Ziggy Stardust to Tommy, they began primarily the realm of classic rock (back before it was “classic”), but exist in pretty much every genre now, from electronic music to hip-hop. Hell, my favorite record of last year was a doom-metal concept album.
One genre that could use more concept albums, though, is new wave. Prolific Vermont-based artist Madaila obliges with the new Good Lord Nancy, which also dips into more traditionally concept album-friendly genres like rock and Americana. It’s only eight tracks – pretty short for a concept album – but it packs a lot into a quick runtime.
So, what’s the concept? Madaila’s Mark Daly explains:
Good Lord Nancy is a story about following your dreams no matter how hard it gets along the way. Life is short. Live your truth.
A woman named Nancy ups and leaves her dull New England life and lover behind to finally pursue her passion and make a career in dance and theatre. She finds a gig on the Las Vegas strip. Carpe diem. Through a journey of joyous rediscovery, Nancy delves into the realms of the Las Vegas nightlife, only to find a burning lust for fame and success. Yet happy on stage, she just can’t seem to shake the past and the lover who came with it.
While you wouldn’t necessarily get all that from the lyrics themselves, the plot is like a skeleton key to unlock the album. Opener “City of Sin” starts with specific roadmap references to Nancy’s move, from I-95 (New England) to I-215 (Vegas). It builds to her A Star Is Born-style success in “Look My Way” and ends with Nancy’s past literally knocking on her door in “Room 109.” It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, maybe setting him up for a part two that continues the narrative (it can be done – Billy Corgan’s plotting a sequel to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, after all).
Like any self-respecting concept album, Good Lord Nancy is meant to have a stage show. The opening line is literally “Let the show begin!” (very Sgt. Pepper’s). “One day, when this album can be performed live, I see it being performed a bit like a play with a band to one side of the stage and then a small cast of dancers and performers acting out and dancing with choreography along to the story,” Daly says. “The album as a whole is intended to feel like a play in which the listener is an audience member in the theatre.”
We’ll have to wait until then to see what the big “tear down the wall!” moment is. In the meantime, listen to Good Lord Nancy below.