As its title suggests, Revealer—the new album by Madison Cunningham—is full of confessions, intimations, and hard truths the Los Angeles singer-songwriter-guitarist might rather have kept to herself. It’s a warts-and-all self-portrait of a young artist who is full of doubt and uncertainty, yet bursting with exciting ideas about music and life, who has numerous Grammy nominations but still feels like she has far to go, who turns those misgivings into songs that are confident in their idiosyncrasies. It’s also a rumination on music as a vehicle for such revelations, what’s gained and what’s lost when you put words to your innermost feelings. “There’s a sense of conflict about revealing anything about yourself—not just what to reveal, but whether you should reveal anything at all,” she says. “When you have to vouch for yourself and present a true picture of who you are, that can get confusing very quickly. This record is a product of me trying to find myself and my interests again. I felt like somewhere along the way I had lost the big picture of my own life.” 

Reassembling that picture resulted in songs full of odd turns of phrase, skewed imagery, and witty asides; Cunningham writes to figure things out, and she doesn’t settle for easy answers or pat platitudes. Instead, more often than not she pulls the rug out from under herself, playing both straight man and comic relief. “I’m not immune to a piece of bad news, I just do what I must to move on,” she sings on the percolating opener “All I’ve Ever Known.” If it sounds like a cry of determination and fortitude, Cunningham immediately undercuts herself: “Give me truth but put me under so I don’t feel a thing.”