In the latter stages of recording their third album, Glasgow outfit, James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band, were scuppered (like most of us) by the virus which has swept the world. Having released two highly acclaimed records (The Tower and High Fences) alongside some excellent live performances, the band have been shaping up well and Edwyn has displayed some grand song writing chops. For now, we’ll have to wait for that third album but in lieu of it Edwyn has released this seven-song set of acoustic demos allowing us a sneak peek.
Recorded in a single session without the band, Edwyn proves to be a compulsive listen on his own. While the collective have often been compared to classic LA bands from the seventies (have a listen to Passing San Ysidro), Edwyn here is much more grounded in folk and blues while the one cover, his take on The Band’s The Shape I’m In, superbly picked on acoustic guitar brings to mind a cross between the guitar wizardry of Stefan Grossman and the waxing and wanings of Tim Buckley.
Little Metal Box is a song which could sit quite comfortably on High Fences and one can mentally furnish the band arrangement as Edwyn sings this immensely attractive song which, while melodic, is tinged with an aching regret. Edwyn then spills into the Jacques Brel like lament which is These Days and the stark cri de coeur which is Time Keeps Passing On where he sounds as if he is at the end of his tether. He keeps the best to the end as the closing song, Mother Storm, featuring jagged and spiky acoustic guitar, tunes into the blues along with that whiff of modal tuning pioneered by John Fahey. Sounding as if it has been dredged from a southern swamp, it’s mightily impressive.
Before We Go is currently available as a download from James Edwyn’s Bandcamp page on a “pay what you like” basis. Given that it’s a tremendous listen and that Edwyn and his band are currently stranded, you might consider offering the price of a pint at least. You won’t be disappointed.