Athens singer/songwriter Madeline raises the White Flag

A subtle but self-effacing tone hides in Athens songstress Madeline Adams' laugh when she admits that her third full-length, White Flag, isn't a "happy" album. But the CD — due out March 10 via Elf Power's Orange Twin Records — isn't a pit of despair, either. The album was recorded over a three-year period. As a result, it's difficult to identify one sweeping theme that ties it all together — other than, as the title suggests, a general feeling of surrender. But redemption, rather than defeat, holds stronger sway over her gorgeous strumming and affecting voice. "I'm tired of hurting people and tired of hurting," she says. "I wanted the record to be this 'I want this feeling to be over' kind of thing."

But White Flag isn't all depression and psychological triage. "Belly of the Beast" tells the story of Adams' grandmother's trip to Puerto Rico, and her last conversations with her dying father. The album's closing number, "Black Out," is an embarrassing confession about drinking to oblivion in Las Vegas and paying for it with a self-inflicted, existential brow-beating the day after.

By comparison, it's easy to liken Madeline's striking vocal range and country/folk songwriting style to that of '60s Greenwich Village folkie Melanie. During live shows, she has even been known to cover Melanie's "Brand New Key" (aka the roller skate song). But these various threads of stories and emotions show a substantial leap in Adams' approach. Channeled through glowing production and locked down by a band of longtime musical cohorts – including John Fernandez of Olivia Tremor Control and members of South San Gabriel and Hope for Agoldensummer – White Flag breaks from the sparse and low-fi leanings of Madeline's previous recordings.

"I have the band to thank for that," she says. "I do think this is just a much better album than anything we've done before. ... They won't be mad at me for saying that, will they?"