Bleu Edmondson

The Future Ain't What It Used to Be

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Bleu Edmondson tends be called a country artist, but that must be because that's the default setting for any singer/songwriter from Texas. Edmondson is in fact a rocker, as he demonstrates from the opening notes of "Blood Red Lincoln" on his album The Future Ain't What It Used to Be. In fact, he is a particular kind of rocker, playing a style that became known as heartland rock in the mid-'70s, after Bruce Springsteen broke through with Born to Run and every record company went in search of a similar performer, hitting on the likes of Johnny Cougar, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, and many others. Edmondson employs an E Street Band-like backup 35 years later to create rock arrangements straight out of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, and he writes songs in the same mode, too, full of observations of working-class people and references to cars and highways. He sings them in a gruff, Springsteen-like voice and with a similar earnestness. For much of the album, the similarities range from strong to nearly actionable. "Black and White," for example, is taken at the pace of Springsteen's "Racing in the Street" and borrows phrases from other Springsteen songs: "death in their eyes" ("Factory"), "light of day." Of course, this is far from Edmondson's first album, but it seems that, with experience and the help of co-writer/producer Dwight A. Baker, he has finally realized his ambition to turn himself into a Texas Springsteen. Some of the ballads on the second half of the album are not so slavish in their imitation, at least not to Springsteen. (You can practically sing Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain" to "I Got My Yesterdays.") But it remains true that Bleu Edmondson is hiding on the back streets in Jungleland most of the time on The Future Ain't What It Used to Be.

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