"Stunned by the Bard Edrington V album on a first listen. Every track is a cracker, no matter the pace or the mood. Very impressive."
Mike Ritchie (Celtic Music Radio)
Review by Alan Harrison at Rocking Magpie
Bard Edrington V
Songs, Stories and Tunes That Capture The Spirit and Majesty of the New Mexico Borderlands.
I don’t know which excites me more; receiving albums from Big Labels and PR’s promoting Household Name acts, (which sort of makes what we do feel appreciated after all these years) or the handmade self-releases from acts looking for a break who have stumbled on the site via a review of a friend or possibly an act that they are fond of. (It’s the latter, actually).
Bard Edrington V from Santa Fe, New Mexico falls into the latter camp and even before I tell you about his music; my world is a better place for discovering his music!
Without ever being an overtly ‘political album’ Edrington sings about his homeland of New Mexico and evokes all kinds of imagery that will stimulate your imagination like a Steinbeck novel; starting with the passionate Maidenhair, which will bring some amazing pictures to your head as you live the song alongside Bard’s gently expressive voice.
As a touring musician, Edrington taps into many different aspects of Rootsy Americana to tell his strident stories; using a raw Mariachi sound on the haunting Take Three Breaths and later the deep Gold and Black Mare.
I guess the subject matter and the way he builds his stories makes me think of Tom Russell, Dave Alvin and Ray Wylie Hubbard; but there’s something about his songs Southern Belle and Painted Pony which takes those three as a starting point and leaps forward into a whole new contemporary arena.
As is the way in the Borderlands, musicians can flit from one genre to another in the blink of an eye; and here Bard utilises some kind of ‘Southern Gothic Blues’ on Mango Tree to tell to capture the senses and smells of this magical area.
I’ve talked a few times about the ‘romance’ that Americana Music can induce in City Slickers and foreigners (like me) alike; and Edrington does that with ease and grace with the Appalachian toe-tapper Rendezvous Duel which sparkles and shines like Townes at his hoariest best; and it’s probably true of most other songs here too.
Sitting here in the Spring sunshine it’s proving incredibly difficult to find a single track that I like better than the rest. Spread My Wings is a wonderful Country Love Song, with a fabulous harmonica solo and Riverside Blues shows what a magnificent guitar-picker Edrington is, and the song itself is more than a bit good too; but I’m going for the title track Espadín, as it really is the cornerstone that everything else is built around and as an individual unit has the ability to capture the essence of what Bard Erdington has tried to recreate like no other; and the guitar, mandolin and violin interplay is quite majestic too.
As I said earlier, this certainly isn’t a ‘protest album’ in any shape or form; and nor is it a ‘Rock Opera’ , it’s just a guy and some friends celebrating the various cultures that collide and co-exist across the Borders of America and Mexico in the 21st Century and he’s done it in a way that is well worthy of the attention of fans of Townes, Guy, Tom, Dave and Ray or the countless others who inhabit this glorious area.
While he has recorded three previous albums with his bands; this is Bard Edrington’s debut as a solo performer and really feels like a coming of age for a singer-songwriter who knows and feels what he wants to write and sing about regardless of commercial success ……. but which will surely come, as he has talent in every pore of his body.
Released USA May 3rd 2019
Released UK & Europe June 3rd 2019
Americana UK- By Diccon Johnston May 14, 2019
This is the first solo album by Bard Edrington V and it has the inescapable air of creative freedom. The written style encapsulates a strong sense of time and place and his storytelling approach is acutely observational, which when coupled with the range of musical styles he has mastered, intermingle to capture the listener and carry them with him on his journey.
His vocal style is undoubtedly closest to Townes in both the combination of lyrics and tone. At key times his voice breaks slightly, incorporating additional emotional content and expression. Coupling his self-evident musicianship with the ability to attract talented guest musicians, that combine throughout to compliment his own strengths, the high points of this album leave the audience in no doubt there would be no better place to be than watching Bard create something special in an intimate, possibly somewhat dingy local bar down in New Mexico on a hot summer evening.
The diverse range of songs capture a number of musical styles in varied combinations. Bard was raised in Tennessee and brings strong Appalachian elements to many of the songs. This is arguably most evident in ‘Rendezvous Duel’ and ‘Southern Belle’ but remains clear throughout. His previous work is mostly combined from Appalachian folk and Delta Blues. This release has expanded to capture a new southern desert sound with a touch of Mexican Mariachi. The overall result is most fresh and inventive when he combines guitar picking elements with traditional fiddle and more derivative when it relies on the electric blues guitar feel.
It is difficult to pick a single favourite from this fine selection. ‘Take Three Breaths’ builds implacably throughout as he heads south across the border suffering sideswipes and paying bribes to get to his destination. The title track ‘Espadin’ is most surely the main contender, as it sits comfortably in the centre of this world he has spun. ‘Two Ways to Die’ is equally close to the sweet spot and completely encapsulates the feeling of being lost in the desert in New Mexico. ‘Southern Belle’ operates from a background of intrinsic sparsity which allows the female supporting vocals and relentless rhythm to be expressed to maximum effectiveness.
The net effect of this combination of songs allows you to undertake the same journeys as Bard. It has the freedom of a musical Steinbeck drifting where it will, simply but beautifully capturing the emotional experience along on the way.
If there is any criticism of this album it is that sometimes the step change between musical styles feels too broad when he moves from Appalachian folk to Delta Blues. Where it is strongest is where the styles comfortably intermingle to create a tangible space that is at once new and fresh. Nonetheless it would not be possible to have found the exhilarating combinations he has discovered without exploring the space between. Who could know that an Appalachian Mariachi combination was what they were looking for until it arrived fully packaged and wrapped for your undoubted delight?
Bard has found a home in a new place on the southern border along with some great neighbours. The exploration of this country is exciting. He has undoubted talents and given the time and space to explore, he is going to continue to produce more fantastic music.
Compelling Appalachian folk tales with Delta Blues and Mariachi overtones
Bard Edrington V
Label: Self Released
Blessed with a sweet voice that double tracked sounds like a Country JJ Cale, Bard Edrington V is an interesting listen from the start. Drawing on his childhood home of Tennessee, taking in musically the Appalachian Mountains, the culture of Mexico, rural California and the historic frontiers Bard tells big stories through rich captivating music. Carried by that characterful voice and a infectious fiddle ‘Maidenhair’ is a beguiling opener. ‘Eyes On The Road’ is a valve amp rocker, with a nod to the verses of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock N Roll’, but shot through with dusty roadhouse integrity not UK imported blues bombast. ‘Riverside Blues’ is perfect folk blues, a beautiful picked guitar and that melancholic fiddle are two reasons why this track is a album highlight. At least one of many. The other is the way that Bard’s weary troubadour vocal sits with Sarah Ferrell and Zoe Wilcox’s voices. This is one of those tracks where you reach for repeat as it fades away. What is amazing about Bard Edington is the way when you think you have it all figured out, he shows another side. So it is with the stunning ‘Take Three Breaths’, Eric Ortiz’s soaring mariachi trumpet evokes the borderlands as does Freddy Lopez’s harmonica, edge of your hearing like a distant accordian. Bard delivers another fine vocal performance, edgy and knowing as Tom Russell. ‘Espadin’ is an evocative song, a mysterious song whose rich lyrics are packed with imagery, a wonderful close miked guitar and splashes of mandolin and strings. Again simply beautiful. ‘Mississippi Flows’ is a county dance of a song. Packed with pictures Bard draws a vivid view of riverside life with the bubbling fiddle, accordian and mandolin capturing the energy of the water and the weather. ‘Two Ways To Die has Bards electric guitar conjuring the desert blues of both Mali and New Mexico. Again the band crackles with heat and energy, everything from Arne Beys insistant drums to Lopez’s harmonica burns. ‘Painted Pony’ by comparison is perfect restraint, from the limpid piano notes like a music box or distant barrellhouse entertainment to David Mohr Nelson’s accordian behind Bard’s love song. Like ‘Two Ways To Die’ Bard’s electric guitar on ‘Mango Tree’ sears like midday sun. Add the huge drums n bass and the harmonica that manages to out Mussellwhite or Little Walter the moaning harp on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California’ or ‘When The Levee Breaks. Against the slamming expansive drum beaks that last comparison seems particularly apt. ‘Gold And Black’ and ‘Spread My Wings’ feature superb vocals with Bard, knowing and gravelly like that missed California raised but Mojave Desert in spirit musician Robert Fisher. The tracks are musically rich cautionary tales, folk blues shot with mariachi and plaintive harmonica. The fiddle opening on ‘Rendezvous Duel’ has a definite Irish feel and the track builds into a wonderful Bluegrass piece. ‘Southern Belle’ a hallucinogenic swirling Civil War tale. Bard is right on the money with his story telling, Sarah Ferrell’s vocal conjours the Belle and the song snaps and pops with dreamy accordian and hand clap percussion.
Sometimes you hear an over indulgent double album, stretched out with filler, when what it needed to be was a leaner peppy single album. ESPADÍN is a rare thing, the exact opposite of that, a single album so packed with interest, ingredients and ideas, that you can’t help but wonder if it could have been a glorious technicolour double album, as expansive as the American continental landscape. This is one you will play again and again, a contender for album of the year. Check out too Edrington’s two fine bands, The Hoth Brothers and The Palm In The Cypress for three more class albums.