A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Jim Dubinsky
I've been a fan of Jonathan Edwards since the release of his self titled album (JONATHAN EDWARDS, Capricorn/ATCO 862) back in 1971. You may remember his hit song "Sunshine." That album had a soft, slightly somber tone, which highlighted his ability and willingness to address the idea of love ("Emma," "Jesse," and "Sometimes"--my favorite). Following Jonathan's career the past few years, I've been impressed by his work with many other folk singers, particularly Cheryl Wheeler. Much of that work, however, has been behind the scenes as he wrote songs, sang harmony, and produced albums.
With his new CD, ONE DAY CLOSER, Jonathan Edwards reemerges from the background into the spotlight (perhaps reflected in the title of his record label--Rising Records). This new collection of songs deserves many listenings. The music alone rewards the listener with influences ranging from calypso to gospel to bluegrass. I particularly like the quiet acappella tune "This Island Earth" in which Jonathan layers his voice to create a harmony with the feel of a good gospel tune. I also enjoy the fifties sound of "Our First Kiss," the bluegrass-influenced "This Old Guitar," and the plaintive song of heartbreak, "I Don't Know What Love Is." Jonathan's singing, L.P. Donnelly's guitar, and Kenny White's Hammond organ playing are so stunning on "I Don't Know What Love Is" that they almost bring tears to my eyes.
More spectacular than the richness and diversity of Edwards' music is the coherence and depth of the lyrics. From the opening notes of "Everything Takes Time," to the closing notes of "Sticks and Stones," Edwards confronts the relationships we all experience. With each song in this collection, the depth of Edwards's vision becomes clearer. Here is a man who has known love, experienced the pain of heartbreak, felt the wounds that won't heal, and still remains optimistic about the possibilities for redemption.
On the first listen, I was caught off-guard by the rhythmic beat and the shifting focus of the personas in the songs. When I listened a second time, the opening lines of the first song "Everything Takes Time" ("Don't tell me all that stuff about love/ Happenin' over night") grabbed me. The imperative tone mixed just right with the upbeat rhythm. In today's world where everything seems to move at the speed of sound or light and packages can be delivered overnight, we often lose sight of the fact that relationships are not information or packages. Edwards reminds us of that reality. He tells us that, "A little patience makes it feel alright ... True love takes its own sweet time to grow." By the end of the collection, after accompanying him on the many journeys he takes into the mysteries of relationships, I understand.
This fine CD with its integrated artwork and illustrations (all painted by Jonathan himself) is a delightful addition for anyone who appreciates thoughtful love songs. Anyone who can write lyrics ranging from the sweet and innocent "Your eyes held the stars like I held you" in the tender reminiscence of "Our First Kiss" to the melancholy admission of "I believed in always / And I kept on believing until you were gone" deserves to be heard. I hope you'll agree.
For more information, send a SASE to:
Friends Along the Line
P.O. Box 268
Rockland, MA 02370.