Free Soul

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Free Soul
Studio album by Madeline Merlo
Released April 29, 2016 (2016-04-29)
Recorded 2014–16 in Nashville, TN
Genre Country
Length 38:59
Label Open Road
Madeline Merlo chronology
Madeline Merlo
Free Soul
Singles from Free Soul
  1. "Sinking Like a Stone"
    Released: February 18, 2014
  2. "Alive"
    Released: July 22, 2014
  3. "Honey Jack"
    Released: July 17, 2015
  4. "Whatcha Wanna Do About It"
    Released: January 22, 2016
  5. "War Paint"
    Released: June 24, 2016
  6. "Over and Over"
    Released: January 20, 2017

Free Soul is the debut studio album by Canadian country music artist Madeline Merlo. It was released on April 29, 2016 via Open Road Recordings.[1] The album includes the singles "Sinking Like a Stone", "Alive", "Honey Jack", "Whatcha Wanna Do About It", "War Paint", and "Over and Over".[2] Upon release, the album debuted at number 88 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. The album's fourth single, "Whatcha Wanna Do About It" earned Merlo her first top ten single on the Canadian country singles chart.


In early 2014, Merlo signed a record deal with Open Road Recordings and spent approximately eight months developing her sound.[3] She released her debut single, "Sinking Like a Stone", on February 18, 2014.[4] The song stayed on the Canada Country chart for 20 weeks and reached a peak position of 32, which helped to establish Merlo's presence on Canadian country radio.[5] That summer (July 22, 2014), she released an eponymous debut extended play, along with a new single, "Alive".[6][7]

Merlo experienced a commercial breakthrough in 2015 with the release of her third single, "Honey Jack." The track reached the top 25 on the Canada Country chart and the song's success contributed to her being chosen as the opening act on Dean Brody and Paul Brandt's The Road Tour that year.[8] At the 2015 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards, Merlo won the prestigious Rising Star award.[9] The fourth single, "Whatcha Wanna Do About It" became Merlo's first top-10 at country radio. Free Soul was made available for pre-order on April 19, 2016.[9][10]


Merlo previously recorded a version of "Ready to Say Goodnight" with duet partner Tim Hicks on the latter's 2014 album, 5:01.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Nanci Dagg of Canadian Beats wrote that Free Soul is "extremely well written and well produced – from the first song to the last," and found the full-length album format "refreshing."[8]

Tom Harrison of The Vancouver Sun was ambivalent toward the record's duelling country and pop influences but criticized Merlo's lack of personality. "Through it all," he writes, "Merlo sings well (and even writes a few songs) without having a personal style."[12]

Track listing[edit]

1."Whatcha Wanna Do About It"
Matt Rovey3:31
2."War Paint"
  • April Geesbreght
  • Madeline Merlo
  • Eric Olson
3."Over and Over"Rovey3:19
4."Holding On to Freedom"
  • Merlo
  • Dan Swinimer
6."Honey Jack"
  • Merlo
  • Stephony Smith
  • Jesse Walker
7."Ready to Say Goodnight" (featuring Tim Hicks)
Jeff Coplan3:55
9."Sinking Like a Stone"
  • Jeff Johnson
  • Swinimer
  • Merlo
  • Swinimer
11."Twist of Fate"
  • Arron Thomas Ritchie
  • Swinimer
Total length:38:59

Chart performance[edit]


Chart (2016) Peak
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[13] 88


Year Single Peak
CAN Country
2014 "Sinking Like a Stone" 32
"Alive" 42
2015 "Honey Jack" 25
2016 "Whatcha Wanna Do About It" 10
"War Paint" 13
2017 "Over and Over" 13


  1. ^ Wadhwani, Ashley (April 12, 2016). "Maple Ridge singer set to release debut album". Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Times. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Free Soul – Madeline Merlo". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  3. ^ Laing, Sarah (July 17, 2015). "#Dreamchaser: What It's Really Like to Break Into the Country Music Scene". Elle Canada. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "Sinking Like A Stone - Madeline Merlo". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  5. ^ Derdeyn, Stuart (July 16, 2016). "Rising star Merlo jumps into Rockin' River". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "YouTube Video Premiere "Madeline Merlo – Alive"". Open Road Recordings. August 14, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Madeline Merlo – Madeline Merlo". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Dagg, Nanci (May 2, 2016). "Review - Madeline Merlo". Canadian Beats. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Doole, Kerry (April 19, 2016). "Madeline Merlo: Whatcha Wanna Do About It". FYI Music News. Music Canada. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Country Star on The Rise, Madeline Merlo, Releases Debut Album, Free Soul, on April 29, 2016". Open Road Recordings. April 19, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "5:01 – Tim Hicks". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  12. ^ Harrison, Tom (May 31, 2016). "Blog: Back to country, wherever that is". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  13. ^ "Madeline Merlo Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "Madeline Merlo – Chart history (Canada Country)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 7, 2016.