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Rhino Hi-Five: Jonathan Edwards - EP

Jonathan Edwards

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Album Review

After a stint in the Boston-based combo Sugar Creek, Jonathan Edwards began his solo career with this 1971 self-titled outing. His brand of homespun tunes were perfectly matched to his emotive and soaring tenor. While he penned a majority of the album's dozen selections, Edwards reached back to former bandmates Malcolm McKinney — author of both the upbeat lovesick lament "Don't Cry Blue" as well as the intimate "Sometimes" — and Joe Dolce, co-writer of the happy, traveling "Athens County." But it wasn't those standout tracks that would score Edwards his first and only Top Ten hit. The acoustic and optimistic "Sunshine" struck a chord with listeners in the fall of 1971, climbing all the way to a lofty number four on the Pop Singles survey before ultimately becoming a staple of oldies radio. (The self-affirming defiance in the chorus "He can't even run his own life/I'll be damned if he'll run mine," undoubtedly touched upon the remaining vestiges of the 'Us vs. Them' mentality that permeated the concurrent generation.) The effort also includes several other excellent offerings, such as the pastoral mid-tempo "Cold Snow," with Stuart Schulman's hypnotic violin developing a hauntingly beautiful counter-refrain. "Emma" is a gorgeous ballad, sporting some affective rural-flavored piano licks from Jeff Labes. The celebratory "Shanty" wails as Edwards' harmonica brings a party atmosphere to the frolicking and energetic melody. There is a perceptible darkness running through the minor chord progressions in "The King," as Labes interjects a definite sense of drama complementing Edwards penetrating vocals. Of equal note is the guitar work of Eric Lilljequist, who provides a fuller sound in support of Edwards. The concluding "Train of Glory" serves up a final opportunity for a rousing round of the artist's emphatic mouth harp [read: harmonica] as he blows with the passion of an old-fashioned gospel revival.

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