Edwin McCain: The Best of Edwin McCain


RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Michael McDermott, David Cook

If you want to start feeling old, watch what happens when an artist you grew up listening to is releasing “greatest hits” or career retrospectives that span five to ten albums or more. Such may be the case with singer/songwriter Edwin McCain, who has been making his own brand of acoustic-driven, southern-tinged alternative rock for almost two decades now. So here he is with The Best of Edwin McCain, a nice collection of tracks that encompass both radio hits and some obscure gems as well. McCain may have begun his career as part of the Aware Records camp, the one that spawned some powerhouse alt/pop acts like Better than Ezra and Train, but he wound up evolving into a hit machine – the kind of hits that made the knees of young-to-middle-aged women weak, and that would find their way onto wedding band set lists. We’re talking songs like “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask For More.” And that set list just got longer too, as there is a new track on here, “Walk with You,” about a dad giving his daughter away in marriage. But those in the know have understood that McCain’s songwriting prowess runs much deeper, and that is never more evident than on his inaugural single, “Solitude,” or on the groove-y “Take Me.” There is also a decent cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.” But for as balanced as this album is, there are a couple of glaring omissions, most notably “Go Be Young” and “Ghost of Jackson Square” from the Messenger album. Still, that’s the beauty of the digital era—that we can go make our own “greatest hits” collections of our favorite artists. Either way, this is a nice look back at a fine career so far. (Time Life 2010)

Edwin McCain MySpace page

  

Lifehouse: Smoke & Mirrors


RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Matchbox Twenty

When Lifehouse released their edgy debut No Name Face in 2000, their music was leaning more toward alternative and cool – because of the songs and the way they recorded them, but also because of how radio, to some degree, still drove record sales. But as bands like Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind keep aging, their music tends to organically soften. And as it does, they start to mesh on radio with artists such as, say, Edwin McCain or Huey Lewis. And while we all do age, there is something inherently disappointing in watching a band like Lifehouse start to listen too much to producers and radio programmers instead of making the cool music that they used to. Still, these guys can write hit songs in their sleep, and on Smoke & Mirrors, their fifth studio effort, Lifehouse has delivered yet another batch of ear candy that will have little girls swooning. For the rest of us, it’s a nice album, but nothing we haven’t heard before, from Lifehouse or any other bands in their alt/pop genre.

Songs like the upbeat “All In” and “Had Enough” are formulaic, but there are also some nice surprises. The first one is “Nerve Damage,” which is an edgy rocker that even has a bluesy guitar solo that is (gasp) almost 30 seconds long. Then there’s the best track of all, “From Where You Are,” a stunning acoustic ballad that shows singer Jason Wade hasn’t lost a single strand of vocal cord over the past decade. Someday Lifehouse may go back to having creative control. But even so, their music doesn’t exactly suck, and you can’t blame them for chasing a big paycheck. (Geffen 2010)

Lifehouse MySpace page

  

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