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Messenger

Edwin McCain

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Album Review

Edwin McCain is not flashy, nor does he wish to be. He is perfectly content with writing folk-tinged ballads and mildly anthemic, midtempo rockers, much like his labelmates and fellow South Carolinians Hootie & the Blowfish. Whereas Hootie broke down the commercial doors for this breed of heartland rock, McCain simply follows the path, winding up where Hootie was after Cracked Rear View — namely, with a solid collection of no-frills rock, one that pleases without being particularly memorable, outside of a handful of singles. He was that way from the first, and his third effort, Messenger, is no different apart from the subtle differences — stylish, radio-ready production from Matt Serletic (a veteran of Matchbox 20 and Collective Soul) and stronger overall songcraft from McCain. These subtle differences are enough to make Messenger his most consistent album to date, at least sonically, but these are primarily cosmetic changes; beneath the surface, it's pretty much the same album as before, with an equal balance of winners and fillers (most notably an acoustic version of the previous album's hit, "I'll Be," tacked onto the end). That's no great sin, especially since most artists following this brand of trad rock have the same problem, but it is a little frustrating, since production becomes the only way to separate the records. Nevertheless, the best moments from all three records constitute a body of work that stands up strongly to his peers, and the best moments from Messenger illustrate that McCain is getting better each time.

Biography

Born: 20 January 1970 in Charleston, SC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A rootsy singer/songwriter with ties to jazz and soul as well, Edwin McCain hails from Charleston, South Carolina, and it was with the support of native sons Hootie & the Blowfish that McCain signed with Atlantic Records. Let it not be said that McCain never earned his contract: his touring schedule is among the most rigorous in music — 300-plus nights per year — and his dynamic band (guitarist Larry Chaney, bassist Scott Bannevich, drummer Dave Harrison, and saxophone player Craig...
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Messenger, Edwin McCain
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