Release Date: Mar 29, 2019
Record label: AED Records
After taking a long break between records, a six-year gap that can be explained by uprooting his life in London to move to the Scottish Highlands and build a new studio, Edwyn Collins' third post-stroke album Badbea both sticks to the formula he's established and takes a few chances, too. Working with a band of longtime collaborators that includes multi-instrumentalists Carwyn Ellis and Sean Read plus guitarist James Welbourne and drummer Jake Hutton, who's on loan from his son Will's band, Collins has crafted a record full of tightly wound rockers and nostalgic ballads. Tougher and more musically expansive than either Losing Sleep or Understated, this is the first record where Collins' record-making ability has caught up to his evocative singing and incisive writing.
As a general rule of thumb, it always helps to take your positives where you can find them. It doesn't hurt to be reminded of this every now and again, of course; and in this regard, you couldn't wish for a more appropriate and avuncular guide than Edwyn Collins. Everyone knows that Collins is the survivor of two catastrophic cerebral haemorrhages - and how, against formidable odds and with the crucial support of his wife, Grace Maxwell, Collins recovered to the point where we can now look forward to albums as assured and enjoyable as Badbea coming at us on a reasonably regular basis.
The past 15 years of Edwyn Collins' life have been dramatic to say the least. Plunged down into the depths with his health, the Scottish songwriter - together with his indefatigable partner Grace Maxwell - has battled back, regaining independence of mind, body, and music. 2010's 'Losing Sleep' and 2013's 'Understated' presented a talent unbowed, with its cutting wit matched only by the energy of the arrangements, at once classic but also chafing at the edges, constantly bursting out into areas new.
R elocating from London to his grandfather's old house in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands in 2014 appears to have had a rejuvenating effect on Edwyn Collins. Not only has he built a new studio there, and at the suggestion of his wife, Grace Maxwellcorr, has revisited lyrics he had written before his stroke in 2005 but never previously used. The resulting album - Collins's ninth solo effort - is a joy, brimming with ideas, but light of touch.