Nashville-based singer-songwriter Madi Diaz has just been signed to ANTI- and is straight out of the blocks with her first single – ‘Man in Me’, co-produced with Andrew Sarlo (Courtney Marie Andrews, Big Thief, Bon Iver) and if this is the shape of things to come then we are definitely going to be hearing a lot more about Madi Diaz.
On first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking that she is channeling her best Phoebe Bridgers but actually that would be to do a disservice to the unique tonality in Diaz’s vocal, the raw energy she puts into this single and her ability to create something that is way more than the sum of its parts.
‘Man in Me’ is Tardis-like in its textural depth, given it is just some very light piano, some reverb-fuzzy guitar strums and Diaz’s solo vocals. A great artist, however, can create great work with very little paint if it is applied in the right amounts in the right places with the right deftness of touch and is added to the canvas with authentic passion and intensity. Diaz’s final product here is riven with raw emotion, the minimal colour palette pushed to extremes to create new shades, new textures and a sound that is both dense and fragile at the same time. You can’t fake the authenticity that Diaz shows here and kudos to her production partner for getting this sound down.
‘Man In Me’ was the first song I sat down to record for myself in about six years, which is the reason I thought it was so important to release first. It’s a very intimately visceral moment, a sort of play-by-play inner monologue, taking my first steps through a really hard time.
Diaz delivers ‘Man in Me’ with real intensity and there is a raw, unabashed honesty in the way she lays her inner monologue out there for everyone to see. Lines like: “Do you imagine me differently // Cause when I met you swore that you saw me // When you think I might be someone else // Does it turn you on.” – take a certain kind of self reflection and also a certain kind of bravery.
The accompanying video is a fantastic single take with the camera starting, fixed on Diaz’s emotive face and moving slowly outwards to reveal more of the scene. Diaz is playing drums, but there are no drums on the song which is confusing but before you have time to process the dissonance of sound and vision the camera starts to move back into Diaz’s face, almost as if her energy and focus have created a gravitational pull from which there is no escape.
The video was directed by Stephen Kinigopoulos and Diaz says it:
emphasizes the intensity of a moment held and held and held…like holding a stare for so long that it hurts. It’s like knowing you should let go, but you keep holding on cause you can’t say ‘when,’ and playing with that tension lying right beneath the surface. You know something’s up, but you just can’t put your finger on it.
Diaz comes originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania but has ended up in Nashville following a circuitous journey via Philadelphia and LA. That’s the classic Nashville singer-songwriter tale right? Well, maybe it is, but on the evidence of this first single, Diaz is much more than a Nashville cliché. Sure, she honed her writing skills in writers rooms there which, over a period of two years, saw her pen over 100 songs, but there is something new, unique and exciting about her songwriting and her voice and we look forward to hearing and seeing more of Madi Diaz.