Chapel Hill based band thrills with new album

When A Mad Affair’s Retro Honey Pop arrived at the Wake Radio station, it was my first listen to the Chapel Hill-based trio. This debut album, a soulful mix with an inherently backwoodsy feel, doesn’t sound like something I’d normally have on my playlist, that will have to change.

Even if it doesn’t fall into the genres I’ve usually tuned in to, A Mad Affair’s sound is something I can appreciate simply for its originality.

The vocals of Valerie Wood are gloriously beautiful and move from slow and smoky on tracks like “Worthy of Love” to strong and passionate in “Out of my Hands.”

Though I’ve never seen the group live, I’d say with a voice like that, Wood steals the show. And not only does she have a great voice, but she can also play the ukulele very well.

Photo courtesy of bandzoogle.com

Still, I can’t dismiss backup vocalist Garth Robertson who truly adds dimension to songs like “Lighthouses” and whose guitar crooning shines clearly in “Love is Unbound.” With Eric Smith on double bass, sporting a hat that covers his long dreads, the band’s local folk sound is complete.

Beyond the group’s sound itself, the lyrics prove the music is both playful and meaningful.

From the back and forth jabs in I “Got a Girl” with lines like “I got a guy, he smells like a sock,” to the love song sweetness of “Old Country Road” (“When you’re walking beside me on an old country road and the wind is like music, and the air is gold”), the group that joined just in the spring of 2011 shows that their newness does not inhibit how dynamic they really are.

Although Retro Honey Pop was just released this summer, A Mad Affair already has a strong following of adoring fans.

On amadaffair.com, listeners are able to leave comments of resounding support. On such comment from Fred Starling of Fayetteville, N.C., writes, “Between you guys and the Family Band, we old farts can rest easy that the next generation of music is in outstanding hands!”

And demonstrating that support of the band reaches well outside the state,  Elizabeth from Colorado said, “I think A Mad Affair would be an excellent addition to the Crestone (Colorado) Music Festival… I love this stuff, and am so impressed.”

Outside of a wonderfully original sound that really does take you to this far off spirited place — perhaps an old country road — I think people are drawn to the trio because of one other reason:

These three band members look and sound like they’re having a genuinely good time making their music. And we all want in on that.