Album Review: Jonathan Edwards – Jonathan Edwards (1971)

Jonathan Edwards is another one of those artists I discovered by accident. Basically I bought a record collection off an antique dealer friend of mine who didn’t really know what to do with it. Everything I hadn’t got that looked interesting I kept. The rest I sold on to a record dealer I know. I got some pretty good stuff out of that collection but by far the best discovery was Jonathan Edwards.

Edwards had been playing with the band Sugar Creek prior to signing a solo deal with Capricorn and the majority of the songs on this debut album were written soon after he left the band. Edwards states that he simply used to take himself off into the woods with his guitar and a bottle of wine, sit by a lake and write songs. That probably goes a long way to explaining the extremely laid back relaxed feeling you get when listening to them.

The fast paced Edwards penned strummalong ‘Everybody Knows Her’ gets things off to a pretty upbeat foot tapping start. Its only fault being its tragic brevity. Some tasteful violin leads into ‘Cold Snow’, another Edwards penned tune that is a little slower than the opener but with a lovely melody which is complimented nicely by Stuart Schulman’s violin solo. Again its only fault is its brevity. ‘Athens County’, also recorded as ‘Sweet Maria’ is an Edwards/Joe Dolce composition and is steeped in bluegrass and western country tradition. A superb vocal is complimented by Bill Keith’s banjo. ‘Dusty Morning’ is more of a standard country rock, folk tune with some nice piano from Jef Labes. ‘Emma’ is the lengthiest track on the album. A beautiful folk tune it has some nice guitar work, an exquisite vocal and a tremendous melody. ‘Shanty’ ends side one on the original vinyl issue and is one of the most well known of Edwards songs. A goodtime campfire singalong shuffle with a nice piano moving it along, it is impossible not to sing along to. Edwards harmonica solo is none too shabby either. A real feel good song that will lift the lowest of spirits.

The same can be said of the opening track on side two. Edwards most recognisable song ‘Sunshine’ was a big hit in 1971 and still garners plenty of radio play in the states today with its catchy hook. Thought of at the time as a political song, on live performances Edwards would change the lyrics to ‘Nixon has cards he’s not showing’. ‘The King’ follows and is a more structured peice than most of the other tracks. The piano solo to fade is a little dark and at times even menacing. Its back to the bluegrass country folk of ‘Don’t Cry Blue’ next. Once again Richard Adelman delivers a great shuffle of a drum beat to support another good Edwards harmonica solo and an infectious vocal. ‘Jesse’ slows things down and into a more folk vein once again, as does ‘Sometimes’ before ‘Train of Glory’ ends the album in tremendous style. Another great harmonica solo opens up a fast paced pedal steel and banjo fuelled stompalong.

By the time you get to the end of the album foot tapping, head nodding and finger snapping have become involuntary acts. If you think you don’t like American, folky, country rock tinged, bluegrass, seventies hippy like singer songwriter music try this out and I’m pretty certain that you’ll change your mind.

© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM February 2011

About Martin Leedham

Music critic, Horse Racing Tipster, Hapless Dreamer, Defender of the Underdog
This entry was posted in Acoustic, Album Reviews, Americana, Blues, Classic Rock, Folk, Music, Music Reviews, Pop, Rock, Singer/Songwriter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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