BARD EDRINGTON V – Espadín (own label)

EspadínBorn in Alabama, raised in Tennessee and now based in New Mexico, Edrington brings together the variations within the musical cultures, as well as his work running a landscaping business with wife and backing singer Zoe Wilcox, on Espadín, his first solo venture, that charts his family’s journey from the high ridges of Tennessee to a Mexican coastal fishing village by way of Santa Fe, as well as other travellers’ tales, rooted in the people and the flora and fauna along the way.

It opens with ‘Maidenhair’, a fingerpicked folksy number embellished with fiddle and, banjo, the title referring to the green, silky leaves growing along the steel walls of the Slickhorn Canyon in Utah through which the Jan Juan river runs as he sings of “the greens of our dreams”.

‘Eyes On The Road’ revs up the engine for a clattering, harmonica wailing slab of dirty rockabilly before things calm down on the circling fingerpicked patterns of Riverside Blues (“working like a man with nothing to lose”) that features Boris McCutcheon on mandolin and rattling background percussion from Michel Chavez.

Mariachi trumpet backdrops the dusty waltzing ‘Take Three Breaths’ recount a journey he and a friend took down the Camino Real, 1500 miles from Santa Fe to Chacala, a fishing village in Nayarit, by way of their truck being sideswiped in Sonora, paying bribes in Mazatlan (to a cop after being pulled over for not wearing a seat belt) and visiting the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sinaloa. Arriving in Oaxaca, the title track tells of the mezcalero who distil the titular wild agave into mescal, Edrington conjuring Van Zandt and Clarke while Karina Wilson paints the track with cello, viola and fiddle.

It’s back to delta blues for the shuffling brushed snares of ‘Mississippi Flows’ with David Barclay Gomez on accordion, the rhythm riding the rails on Two Ways To Die’ as, lost in the desert, Wilson’s fiddle is given its head and Freddy Lopez takes things out on harmonica wail.

The focus shifts to the stories of those who also looked to bridge the two worlds, ‘Painted Pony’ a simply strummed swayalong cowboy campfire tune (albeit with music box piano accompaniment), throaty electric guitar riffery underpinning ‘Mango Tree’, a bluesy rock celebration of the Mexican climate, while ‘Gold And Black Mare’, a hanging song about horse stealing, a fatally demanding lover and murder, melds traditional folk and Southern Gothic blues.

Arguably, the album’s two strongest tracks are those that are stripped right back, the acoustic blues ‘Spread My Wings’ featuring just his guitar and Lopez’s harmonica solo while ‘Rendezvous Duel’ heads into Appalachian territory with Wilson’s fiddle and Edrington’s banjo, sung in the voice of legendary frontiersman Kit Carson as he returns to his wife to swap stories. And there it stays for the final number, ‘Southern Belle’ with its handclap rhythm, accordion, banjo and Sarah Ferrell providing the harmony vocals, a Civil War story of a wounded Union soldier being cared for by a Confederate woman.

A Bard is, of course, a celebrated professional storyteller, a poet, a travelling minstrel. His folks named him well.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.bardedrington.com

‘Espadín’ – live: