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

  

David Nail: I’m About to Come Alive


RIYL: Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Train

That cha-ching sound you just heard was the royalty cash register for another mainstream pop/rock songwriter, as a country music artist has not just cut a song by the band Train, but made it the title track for his MCA Nashville debut. The artist is David Nail, and while Nail has endured ups and downs and at least one failed move to Nashville, the story has a happy ending, or at least a happy middle upon the release of I’m About to Come Alive, which might also be symbolic for the young artist. Nail has co-written about half the material here, and it might be curious that he’d go with a full blown cover song as his title track, but if you follow Train at all, you know it’s one of their best and most heartfelt songs. And it comes a couple years after Gary Allan had success with Vertical Horizon’s “Best I Ever Had.” But back to Nail, because he and producer Frank Liddell have managed to put a set of tunes together that is as good or better than anything Nashville has produced in the past decade. And the same can be said for Nail’s powerful vocal ability. Of course the title track is stellar, but there are some other beauties on here, especially “Red Light” and the Garth Brooks-ish “Looking for a Good Time,” the latter of which features some pretty guitar work. (MCA Nashville)

David Nail MySpace page

  

Pat McGee: These Days (The Virginia Sessions)

Pat McGee has dropped the “Band” from his name and is going it alone, so to speak, in his solo debut and first effort for Rock Ridge Music, These Days (The Virginia Sessions). There is something breezy and easy to enjoy about McGee’s songs – they are delivered in a way reminiscent of ‘70s pop (think Jackson Browne) or akin to in more modern terms, Train or the Fray. McGee has a good, if not spectacular, voice; but as it’s always been, his songs are the driving force of his career, and he’s brought us another batch of good ones here. One of the only negative things you can say about Pat McGee is that much of the material, in melody, tone and arrangement, sounds very similar. But occasionally he steps things up, as he does on These Days with the stunning “Come Back Home,” a track originally written when McGee’s longtime drummer, John C. Williams, left the band, with the sentiment being how a military couple deals with separation during times of war. Sadly and somewhat symbolically, Williams’ younger brother lost his life in Iraq after McGee wrote the song last year. The Tonic-esque “The Hand That Holds You” is also a standout track. (Rock Ridge Music)

Pat McGee MySpace Page

  

This World Fair: This World Fair

It appears the next incarnation of Aware Records is here, in the form of Los Angeles-based Ping Pong Music. Ping Pong manages Epic Records’ Augustana, and they are bringing us the next wave of very talented baby bands such as This World Fair, the London, and Windsor Drive. The formula of Ping Pong’s bands is similar to Aware, which launched the careers of artists like Train, Vertical Horizon and John Mayer. And that formula is almost a no-brainer – finding talented acts with hooky, melodic songs – but it’s in stark contrast to today’s hipster-driven music industry that mostly relies on gimmicks and fabricated street cred meters. Still, there is always a demand for great bands like This World Fair, and their debut album is an absolute sonic gift to those who dig the likes of Augustana, Better Than Ezra or Keane. Chris Kalgren fronts the band with a smooth tenor that effectively delivers a balance of driving rockers such as “Can’t Stop Falling” and “Drama,” or dreamy tracks like “This is All.” But among ten tracks that are quite frankly straight A’s, This World Fair scores an A+ with the pulsing, stunning piano-driven “Seven Letters.” Despite where the music industry is headed, there is no good reason why This World Fair shouldn’t be as successful as the rest of the world will allow them to be. (Ping Pong Music)

This World Fair MySpace Page

  

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