Edwin McCain

The Austin Sessions

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It's really impossible to fault Edwin McCain. There might not be anything particularly original about him, but he turns out good, memorable songs. And it seems like recording in Austin agreed with him: The overall sound, a sort of Dire Straits fronted by John Cougar Mellencamp with a touch of J.J. Cale, has a definite homespun, lightly funky charm (indeed, he covers Mark Knopfler's "Romeo and Juliet" here). Kicking off with a strong one-two punch on "Let It Slide" ( folky with a smidgen of gospel) and "No Choice" (folky with a smidgen of Celtic), there's a fairly acoustic groove to the music. That doesn't stop the pop quotient, though -- "Little Girls" could be straight out of the Mellencamp songbook, and "Popcorn Box" has a winning chord sequence. Sure, at times thoughts of Bruce Hornsby and Marc Cohn spring to mind, but in a way that's part of what makes McCain so successful; his songs tend to sound a little like things you've heard, which keeps them velcroed to the mind. And he can tell a good story with his lyrics, as on "Alive." On The Austin Sessions he's not trying to be anything but himself, laid-back and never attempting to be a rocker. Maybe he's really found himself at last.

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