First CDs and then the ongoing slow collapse of the music industry changed so much. From the eponymous 1971 debut LP Jonathan Edwards issued up to 1989's The Natural Thing, I was always able to catch the guy's releases with ease, finding them at most any of the record stores I frequented, but then came CD, the hideous increase in the price of music (while the label's expenses were cut dramatically), the difficulty in finding many releases, the upheaval in distribution processes, the switches from big labels to small, and all the ills the industry became heir to. For music loons like me, keeping the collection progressively up to date got really difficult. In fact, most gave it up. I chose to become a critic and now, many years later, am in a completely different set of venues, finding myself catching up on so much. With Edwards, I'd kinda forgotten how much I missed the guy.
Take his cover of the Beatles' She Loves You, in which he turns the song around 180 degrees, making the plaintive rock paean into a crooned country-folk tear-jerker, transforming the otherwise ditty nature of the lyrics into a down-home right-here-right-now rural soap opera. It's quite affecting and readily disposes the listener towards heartfelt reflection. Mixing Danny O'Keefe with James Lee Stanley and his own eclectic wont, Edwards, throughout My Love, provides a dozen extremely well crafted tunes hitting a range of emotions and subjects, all couched in rootsy idioms, How Long perhaps the most sterling example thuswise.
He also has a fondness for Jesse Winchester (and who doesn't?), has covered many of the guy's songs over the years, and here supplies us with his take on Freewheeler, about a carefree heartbreaker out for her own and no one else's, someone both sides of the gender divide can well recall from various aspects of their history. However, as is Winchester's wont, there's a good deal more to the story than that, and the second half of the song redeems the first, putting the standard glibness of morality plays to their rest. Edwards also has a very cool streak of Michael Martin Murphey running through him, a side that sits nicely with the O'Keefe inflections, and, like so many of his ilk, the guy is aging not only with grace and dignity but also showing he gets nothing but better, as this disc, emerging after a 14 year hiatus, is his best. Ever.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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