By John Lane
To understand the title of this review and to enter into the spirit of the occasion, one needs to watch this first; it’s mandatory.
Such is the momentous arrival of Mary Edwards‘s new album Eastern/Central & Mountain/Pacific! Her album title harkens back to a time during the 1970s when television networks would announce the scheduled show times applying to those specific time zones; the casual spectator was always given a dual sense of sweeping national geography and a sense of union, that we were all bound together by what was coming across the channel.
Mary Edwards’s music has always been about such unity; each album that she delivers is a warm, welcoming party with Mary as the Hostess with the Mostest (not in a vulgar sense). For the uninitiated, Mary Edwards is the complete musical package: singer/songwriter with a voice that sounds like she’s the lovechild of Dionne Warwick. She has the musical ear and God-given talent that should’ve had her working shoulder-to-shoulder with the giants at the Brill Building. Soul, jazz, soft pop is all melded together into something that is uniquely her smooth, distinct concoction.
With Eastern/Central & Mountain/Pacific, we are invited to a Special.
The opening track “Time and I” tumbles out with lush cascades of harmonious voices and good vibes aplenty. It’s instant nostalgia – a happiness that feels so right, it can bring tears to the listener’s eyes. Adding to the cinematic/after-school-special blend are four instrumentals, which lend to the rich flavor of this venture. “The Girl Who Knew Tomorrow” has Bacharach-like horns that shoot to the sky like so many colorful balloons; “Eventual World” has a blend of melancholy and jauntiness with its flute; and the jovial ghost of Joe Raposo snaps his fingers on the sidelines in this little heaven that Mary Edwards has magically created. If I’m taken with the idea of four instrumentals on a nine-track album, it’s because of the sheer boldness and ingenuity on Mary’s part.
The album closes with “Something in the Sunshine” which is an upbeat, salutary finish. Listen to how Mary holds the notes, how she purposefully accents one word over another, and how she eases back to let the vibes playfully sprinkle their magic on the proceedings.
2012 is not yet over, but already Eastern/Central & Mountain/Pacific has earned a spot in everyone’s Top Ten list.
Eastern/Central & Mountain/Pacific is out now and is available directly from Mary Edwards’s website.