MIRЯOR: VISION is the second of three EPs making up Jaye Madison’s full-length debut. Jaye Madison revolves around the collective talents of twin sisters Jordan and Madison Skinner, Lumberton, Texas natives now finding their way in the always competitive world of the Nashville music scene. They’ve exploded onto a larger stage thanks to robust songwriting and a maturity level that few other young songwriters, individually or in a team, can match.

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The four-song release is a bit pop country, singer/songwriter and spiced with a generous heaping of Americana influences. The opening “Peace of Mind” is a grand piano-driven ballad addressing issues of character and making one’s way through life while staying centered. The sisters invest a tremendous amount of thoughtfulness and sensitivity in building this song.

It begins in a spartan fashion. Vocals and elegant piano lay the song’s initial foundation and Jaye Madison exercises patience by incorporating other instruments into the performance. There’s no rush; the Skinner sisters focus on bedazzling listeners in increments rather than overwhelming their audience. Their vocal approach sets them apart as well. Madison and Jordan share similar vocal characteristics, of course, and there are moments when they are nearly indistinguishable. There are clear contrasts, however, that enrich the performance, and alternating between solo and harmony vocals proves to be a potent weapon in their artistic arsenal.

“Ride or Die” is a nearly 180-degree turn. It’s a love song hinging on a popular phrase, but Jaye Madison uses it with individual flair. The second track has a much more rootsy flavor than the opener and the mid-tempo pacing gives it ideal energy. Perhaps the greatest source of its appeal, however, is the relaxed joy radiating from every passage. It sounds off-handed, a natural outgrowth of their gifts, and never labored for effect. They rely far more on vocal harmonies here than the first song and it pays off handsomely.

Jaye Madison swings back toward deliberate piano balladry with the track “Plot Twist”. It is an exceptional example of modern songwriting using time-honored fundamentals. You won’t ever get the feeling, however, of having heard this before as Jordan and Madison are especially adept at putting a distinctive stamp on the lyrical and musical content. It’s another love song but communicates how love and its transformative touch often leave us humbled by the experience.

The sisters conclude MIRЯOR: VISION with “Middle Name”. They return to the piano-fueled balladry of the EPs first track with different structuring setting it apart from the opener. It isn’t built quite as self-consciously as “Peace of Mind”, they introduce other instruments into the mix far sooner than before, but it is largely cut from the same musical cloth. Another important distinction between the two tracks is how Madison and Jordan work so closely together throughout the performance. “Middle Name”, nevertheless, bookends the EP in a spectacular way and provides a final cohesive touch for Jaye Madison’s latest release. It certainly whets our appetites for the third and final EP in this series. 

Garth Thomas