Photo: Henry Diltz / Courtesy of Chromatic PR

Richard Edwards Sings Through the Pain on ‘Verdugo’ (album stream)

Former Margot & The Nuclear So and So's frontman Richard Edwards issues sophomore release, Verdugo, with some sunnier sides.

Verdugo is the sophomore solo album from Richard Edwards (formerly of Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s). Created during the same six-month period that spawned his debut, Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset, during which he suffered from a debilitating intestinal ailment and went through a divorce, this chapter finds him moving on from those difficulties.

Verdugo arrives June 1 and is the stylistic and emotional companion to EdwardsLemon Cotton Candy Sunset.

“This is the second of two albums made under duress in Los Angeles over the course of a long year,” Edwards says. “It’s the sunnier of the two, an album of melodic pop music.” That year included being diagnosed with C. Diff, a debilitating intestinal ailment, and weathering a divorce. His illness made it difficult to sing in anything but a high falsetto, which becomes one of the more intriguing elements of the album, lending an unexpected warmth and weight to the material.

Though some of the material is inspired by his personal trials, he points out that there are other, character-driven songs along the way. “Some of it’s happy, some of it’s sad. That’s life, baby,” he offers.

There are flourishes of Ryan Adams-style Americana on the LP, including the moving “Minefield”, while “A Woman Who Can’t Say No” adds tinges of the strange, with flourishes that are as disquieting as they are comforting. The dreamlike “Gene” immerses us in the world Edward creates here, one in which physical pain and emotional tumult find an endpoint and where we can at the very least imagine an exit strategy from them. Meanwhile, “Olive Oyl” is arguably the record’s most straightforward foray into folk music while “Strange” takes familiar musical elements and renders them just off center enough to be striking.

In the end, Verdugo stands at a collection that doesn’t arrive at easy answers, doesn’t give away its secrets immediately but instead encourages the listener to dive in, headlong, and search for its richly rewarding buried treasures.