Irish artist Chris Madden has been gigging for over half a decade now, taking to the stage at venues ranging from pubs to concert halls that seat hundreds. His vibrant variety of country/rock music has been well received, managing to garner an admirable amount of critical acclaim. After taking to the studio to record and mix a debut EP, he dropped the four piece compilation Crazy Bars and Fast Cars onto iTunes in March.

Its opening number, “Streak-A-Lightening”, begins building with an upbeat, rousing riff that persists purposefully behind a bracing melody. The enthusiasm of the vocals combined with the energy of the instrumentation is uplifting as an optimistic ambience arises. A fervent guitar solo later on is particularly pleasing before the whole thing reaches a catchy choral climax.

The title track features a slower, more laid-back introduction and harmony afterwards. Sauntering serenely towards a rather riveting refrain during the chorus, it calms back down for the second verse. It’s another passionate and determinedly delivered addition, despite its reserved rhythm.

The affecting acoustic riff of “Danced in the Dirt” unfolds alongside solemn vocals that convey a great deal of emotion. The crisp, cool instrumentation cuts deep, while the heartfelt harmony remains touching throughout. Its soft, stripped-down sound results in a sedate and stirring ballad.

“When You Hit the Ground” maintains the sombre air of its predecessor as it gently reverberates into a hushed harmony. The vocals grow gradually as they progress, becoming increasingly expressive while the instrumentation stays subtle. This enables it to serve as a simple but moving finale.

Madden has put together an easy and accessible collection here that encompasses a wide array of moods and motifs during its twenty minute run-time. It balances the genres of country and rock quite consistently, which should allow it to appeal to a fairly diverse listenership.

Chris Madden: Crazy Bars and Fast Cars EP review
Graduate of NUI Maynooth's Department of English, passionate writer of fiction and creative non-fiction alike. Mad about music, movies and books. If there's anything I enjoy more than listening, watching and reading, it's writing about what I listen to, watch and read! Check me out at, find me on Twitter @davesimpson1 or drop me a line at