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Review: Jonathan Edwards, My Love Will Keep

Jonathan Edwards
My Love Will Keep
Appleseed (2011)

With his first all-new album in 14 years, Jonathan Edwards, the silver-voiced honky-tonk Stardust Cowboy, returns with a heart-warming blend of gentle folk, pop, and hill country-influenced tunes. Accompanied by Maine-based musicians including Charlie Rose (bass, pedal steel), Jim Begley (percussion), and Ed Dickout (drums), Edwards and a host of stellar guests, including vocalists Claire Lynch, Moondi Klein (Seldom Scene, Chesapeake), Edwards’ daughter Grace, guitar wiz Duke Levine (Peter Wolf, Mary-Chapin Carpenter), and mandolinist Taylor Armerding (Northern Lights), deliver a nearly 50-minute-long collection as filled with sunshine and good feelings as anything in the Minnesota-born singer-songwriter’s discography.

Five original tunes include “Johnny Blue Horizon,” memorializing John Denver; a harmonica-rich “Crazy Texas Woman”; a reprise of “How Long,” from his 1976 album, “Rockin’ Chair”; a duet with Claire Lynch (“Surrounded”); and “Lightkeeper,” composed for the closing theme of the Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner film of the same name. An ecological theme threads most of the covers, including instrumentally backed interpretations of originally a cappella tunes, “This Island Earth,” by Paul Cooper (The Nylons) and “Sailor’s Prayer,” by Rod MacDonald. “Everybody Works In China,” one of two songs by Henry Gross, addresses unemployment and industrial outsourcing.

The high point of the CD comes with a rendition of “She Loves You,” that transforms the hard-rocking Beatles tune into a gently lilting, barely recognizable ballad arranged by longtime Tom Rush sideman, Eric Lilliquist.

—Craig Harris (Chicopee, MA)

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