Personnel: Edwin McCain (vocals, guitar); Larry Chaney (guitar); Craig Shields (saxophone, keyboards); Markeya Sherard (drums).
Audio Mixers: Michael James ; Noel Golden.
Recording information: Carriage House Studios, Stamford, CT; Crooked Crown Studio, Los Angeles, CA; The Lair Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Whitestone Studios, Greenville, SC.
Photographers: Rich Singer; Brian Nelson.
In 2011, Hootie and the Blowfish are a memory, while Darius Rucker plays the country circuit, the Dave Matthews Band has practically evolved into a classic rock act, Counting Crows are floating about in the ether, and Matchbox 20 is remembered as the band that spawned Rob Thomas, but unlike his rootsy compatriots of the mid-to late '90s, Edwin McCain hasn't changed all that much since Misguided Roses climbed the charts in 1997. Perhaps he's not selling as many discs or filling the same number of seats, but Mercy Bound confirms his voice is still in strong shape, he's still writing with his traditional blend of heart, soul, and regular-guy smarts, and his mixture of rootsy light rock, singer/songwriter-inspired folk/ and soaring/ Southern-style melodies is working just as well for him now as ever. With songwriter Maia Sharp (another veteran of the late-'90s AAA scene) as producer, Mercy Bound breaks practically no new ground for McCain, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing; as the last man standing among his graduating class, McCain sounds determined to carry the flag for a sound he helped define, and he seems perfectly happy to do it. From the romantic introspection of "The Boy Who Cried Love" and "Sober" to the sly, easygoing funk of "Strange Angel" and the folkie storytelling of "Millhouse Girl," this is Edwin McCain sounding just like Edwin McCain, unconcerned with musical trends or the whims of the larger audience as he does what feels right. And it's clearly working for him, as this is as well-crafted and impassioned as anything McCain made during his brief run as a hitmaker, and he and his audience are doubtless happier with this than if he took a stab at Auto-Tuned pop. Mercy Bound plays to McCain's strengths, and that should make him and his fans quite happy. ~ Mark Deming
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