Of the handful of mid-Nineties pop/rock acts snatched out of South Carolina by the majors in the wake of Hootie-mania, Edwin McCain is virtually the only one left standing. Over the past six years, he has quietly built a career on a hit or two per album, mostly pop ballad fare like the number one single, “I’ll Be”, or the Dianne Warren-penned, “I Could Not Ask for More”. This latest album is another solid if unspectacular outing, in a career that is increasingly setting McCain up as his generation’s James Taylor.
Dig a little deeper than the hits, however, and he comes up more as a journeyman rocker who just happens to have hit big with his ballads. Latter-day Eric Clapton or Bruce Hornsby would probably be the more apt comparison when one takes into account the more upbeat and adventurous fare sprinkled throughout McCain’s catalog.
Unlike those studio hounds, McCain has stuck with a slowly evolving lineup of support players, some of whom have been around since he was billing himself as a band, not a person. The two old-timers remaining are multi-instrumentalist Craig T. Shields and bassist Scott Bannevich. Newer to the group is guitarist Pete Riley, who some may remember from the band Treehouse, who were signed to the now defunct Breaking Records, an Atlantic Records imprint run by McCain’s Carolina buddies in Hootie and the Blowfish.
Far From Over mixes sensitive love songs like, “Write Me a Song”, with more upbeat material such as, “Sun Will Shine”. Those who enjoyed Todd Snider’s send-up of the grunge scene a while back will no doubt also appreciate the skewering McCain gives the TRL Generation on “Radio Star”, a viciously sarcastic bit of anti-stardom that could have sounded hackneyed but manages to remain simply humorous in the singer’s self-deprecating method of delivery.
McCain completists will be glad to see the previously soundtrack-only cut “Jesus, He Loves Me”, tacked on to the end of the disc (It was released originally on the Jesus mini-series album). Its simple, yet direct message is in perfect sync with McCain’s simple, direct approach to making listenable, if unremarkable, pop music.