Edwyn Collins

Hope and Despair

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Collins's post-Orange Juice debut album has the familiar trappings of one of Glasgow's most celebrated songwriters -- a man whose main fallbacks seem to be lovelorn pessimism and cynicism toward the entertainment industry. Still, when you prepare the same feast as lovingly as Collins does, you'll never be short of house guests. The songwriting craft here is as keenly evident as you'd expect, with reggae hero Dennis Bovell (previously a member of Orange Juice's inner circle) providing production help and bass. Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame also contributes guitar. Highlights include "The Beginning of the End," which is downcast even by Collins' world-weary standards, as the artist treads carefully through everything from blue-eyed pop to rustic country in his resolutely surefooted manner.

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