Lockdown and the on-going impact of Covid-19 continue to reshape the music industry. In this case, I don’t mind too much. James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band have released a seven-track digital album, Before We Go.
The band were formed in 2013 and are one of those that you wonder why they’re not better known widely across the UK. Edwyn is from Glasgow but I first came across them playing at the Gate to Southwell Festival (to be honest wondering who the hell would have that kind of name, but I was equally quite attracted and intrigued by it) and after that fortunate encounter I’ve made sure I’ve seen them whenever there’s been chance since.
The sound is somewhere between Country-ish Rock, Americana and Folk so it’s no surprise that the first track on this album (the only cover) is Robbie Robertson’s ‘The Shape I’m In’. The version I’ve got is on ‘The Last Waltz’, full band – swirling organ, lead guitar bites, drums. How do you make that sound anything like on just an acoustic guitar? Play James Edwyn’s version off this album, you’ll find the answer.
The remaining six tracks are all self-penned and the recording is described as “recorded in The Cottage Studio in the 90 minutes before we went”. So Covid-19 strikes – the studio album that was expected this year has been shelved, overtaken by current events. Nor are the Borrowed Band here on Before We Go. So, we have James Edwyn pared back with a maximum of three takes for any track. The result is a) much better than it deserves to be in these circumstances, which is, of course, b) no surprise to anyone who’s seen them play live.
Edwyn can have both a slight grizzle to his voice which he uses to good effect – try ‘Time Keeps Passing’ or ‘These Days’ – as well as a gentler tone inviting you in – try ‘When The Demon’s at the Door’ or ‘Little Metal Box’.
As for the guitar, the highlights are the self-penned ‘Mother Storm’ as well as ‘The Shape I’m In’, (picked) and ‘Metal Box’ or ‘Time Keeps Passing’ (strummed). In the absence of gigs and videos, the link below takes you to ‘Mother Storm’.
Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/JamesEdwynAndTheBorrowedBand/
James Edwyn live acoustic and solo: