Music Premiere

Track Premiere: Essential Forever’s “Madeline”


We’re big fans of Al Heaney over here at Merry-Go-Round. Beyond being a wonderfully heady singer-songwriter whose music time capsules back to the smoky ‘60s styles of Harry Nilsson or Donovan, Essential Forever kicked off our first showcase at Permanent Records Roadhouse back in May of 2022. It was a production none of us at the magazine are likely to forget any time soon, at times a performance art piece with blazing musical gusto, at times a full on game show blitz with props and comedy. It was spectacular.  

Heaney’s been busy since that show, performing with both Jungle Green and Spencer Tweedy, and working away at his self-titled sophomore effort with Ben Varian (of Pearl & The Oysters). At times, the production of his latest album feels sparser, even more nimble than the debut, 2021’s THERE’S A LOT STILL TO SAY ABOUT ESSENTIAL FOREVER, but the Wrecking Crew-styled details fill out the sound brilliantly all the same. This sound is especially true on the new single “Madeline,” which finds Heaney pining over a crawling and lonely guitar until the rhythm section kicks in full force. 

“’Madeline’ searches through memories of my hometown Beavercreek, Ohio, connecting fragments into a fictionalized version of a woman I knew and the life she went looking for,” Heaney says. “It’s a score to a common dream of riding off in the sunset with a new life before you when dawn breaks, and an exploration of that youthful dreaming as it collides with fate. In my song, like other characters on the album, Madeline is an unsung folk-hero. She is a hymn to profound yet quiet strength, unwavering optimism and the courage to go looking.” 

Defined by spritely xylophones and impassioned backing vocals, Heaney’s singular, magnetic style and energy translates to one of the more memorable bouts of sonic longing and wonderment committed to record in 2023. You can get a taste of “Madeline” below: 

ESSENTIAL FOREVER arrives on August 29th. Be sure to follow him ahead of release over on Bandcamp

CJ Simonson
CJ Simonson is Merry-Go-Round's Editor-in-Chief and representative for all things Arizona. The only thing he knows for certain is that "I Can Feel The Fire" by Ronnie Wood is the greatest closing credits song never used in a Wes Anderson movie. Get on that, Wes.

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