The Austin Sessions
In an effort so feeble that it may not even win him the respect of Michael Bolton fans among the WalMart set, Edwin McCain’s latest album, The Austin Sessions, is a morass of forlorn lyrics, incoherent instrumentation and syrupy melodies. In McCain’s homage to the Southland’s musical heritage, the leitmotif is unrequited love, and as you slog through McCain’s nasal songs you will have no trouble understanding why no one is willing to spend the rest of their life with the Georgia native.
At a time when Southern rock is little more than a desiccated mass, McCain’s release is a sign that a flood of innovative talent is still not ready to appear. Instead of tapping the South’s rich and eclectic musical history including such bands as the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Muddy Waters and the Band, McCain utilizes a formulaic approach with the occasional Southern flourish to distract the listener from the album’s hackneyed tone. The aurally-stimulating strains of the banjo featured at the beginning of “Let it Slide” are quickly drowned out by McCain’s sterile vocals. McCain’s method prevents him from venturing off toward new sonic territory, and instead the singer-songwriter is content to simply rehash his previous work.
But there is one redeeming quality to the album: comic relief. With nonsensical lyrics like “When he gave his river a voice, he never really had no choice” and “Well I poured myself from this lonely bottle, my clown shoes got hung in the neck” it is simply impossible not to join in the fun.