Judith Edelman, Only Sun

by PopMatters Staff

 

This album has been growing on me over the past weeks. From the first listen, I loved Edelman’s use of classic bluegrass beats and instruments, such as fiddle and mandolin. But her songs did not leap out at me, seeming rather conventional. Over time, however, the songs have been playing in my head and on my stereo, and I have started to appreciate Edelman for her slyly infectious tunes.

There is more to Edelman than meets the ears in one hearing. As just one instance of her ability to surprise, the album’s title and opening song, “Only Sun,” might seem a cheery statement of optimism but the song turns out to be a plea for an escape from unbearable daylight into the gloom of northern climates or early morning. This play with expectations is typical of the album, as the songwriter mixes the genres of folk and bluegrass to create her own unique style.

Edelman’s weakness is in her occasional tendency to lean toward writing songs with a mission, choosing rather typical axes to grind that detract from the album’s originality and musicality. “Lost Cause Café,” the doors of which the narrator pledges to close someday, is a cloying and overly obvious tune that sacrifices the likeable personality that emerges in the other songs in order to make its point. But the pleasure of the other selections on the album balances these odder choices to produce an album that is fun, creative, and catchy.

Only Sun

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