Speak with your heart and everyone you meet will know who you are

Edd-Donovan-and-The-Wandering-MolesA fair old time ago, now, I wrote a couple of posts about this chap. Used to come across  him at the Slak Bar in Cheltenham where he played and fronted what now seems a golden age of local exotica with the quirky, intimate Calmer* evenings. (The * used to bother me too…) I still bump into him occasionally at gigs and festivals, but not heard of anything musically since. Until now…

Edd Donovan

So anyway, Edd has a new record out after a five year hiatus, Something To Take The Edge Off, and he’s been good enough to send me an advance copy of it. I’ve gone on before about how absurdly pleased I generally am to be given music to review, partly because it’s free (clearly a Good Thing), but also because it gives me the chance to don the peaked cap and grey hoodie of the real Blogger. Who doesn’t relish the chance to stroke the beard and pontificate once in a while?

In reality (and perhaps fortunately – I’d be no match for the impressively-bewhiskered Mr Donovan), there’s precious little beard-stroking going on with this record – it’s actually a charmingly (occasionally uncomfortably) frank affair. In truth, I’m becoming a little impatient with precious and wilfully obscure lyrics, these days, so it’s rather invigorating to hear a songwriter with intelligent, mature thoughts free of self-conscious pretence. There are, to be sure, some gorgeous, unassuming and affecting songs to be enjoyed here.

These days, Edd fronts an actual band (the Wandering Moles) who drive his songs along at some pace and carry his already brisk guitar playing shoulder-high through a purposeful selection of songs with some intent. As well as a busy rhythm section (with occasional loping bass-runs), there are great breezy organ contributions and some jaunty country-style guitar-picking too. (There is also an appearance from the much under-used jew’s harp. Hurray!)

I’m also quite intrigued about the range of Edd’s song-writing, all sorts of thoughts get an airing on the record. We have songs about courage and self-acceptance, pointed statements about others’ intentions and some fairly Zen-like statements of universal and personal concord.

Overall this is a lovely record, warm and generally upbeat in its outlook with some very real highpoints – I particularly like Don’t Be Afraid and the soulful, harrowing Social Worker. I’m guessing one of Edd’s favourites, however, is the disturbingly personal recollections of House on Fire, it being the one that appears most regularly in his recent YouTube appearances:

Enjoying this record very much, Edd, many thanks!

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