Wednesday, October 6, 2010

pop*eye... Edwyn Collins—Losing Sleep (2010)


Edwyn Collins
Losing Sleep (2010)

*I Proud To Recommended!!!*

It's impossible to judge Edwyn Collins’ first album of new material since the stroke he suffered in 2005 (2007’s Home Again comprised songs written, if not recorded, beforehand) separately from his near-death experience, not least because some of the lyrics address what happened. But it is emphatically not a great album just because of the fact of his survival. Whatever the criteria, Losing Sleep would measure up.

It doesn’t sound like the work of a man who still needs to walk with a stick and can barely cross the road alone. Collins does have support – from Franz Ferdinand, The Drums, Johnny MarrThe Cribs, all of whom owe him and seminal janglers Orange Juice a debt – but it’s more adornment than crutch. These 12 tracks have an irrepressible energy that is all Collins’ own, reflecting his twin loves of punk and northern soul; while his lyrics, always wryly self-regarding, have an urgency and bluntness that would make them seem inconsequential were there not so much at stake.

There’s little prevaricating here. The title-track, and album opener, finds him losing not just sleep but dignity in his damaged state, insecure about his life and work, achieving Brian Wilson-esque levels of naive candour. Over the Hill is a typically Edwyn double-bluff title that evokes his "reckless youth" and contemplates a future when he’ll be older and wiser, having learned nothing from his "world of darkness". I Still Believe in You, with its echoes of Iggy’s Lust for Life, starts with a joke ("When I’m alone, I miss you / Back at my house, I don’t") before movingly encapsulating the two constants in his life: dread, and his wife Grace.

And yet Collins was always more multifaceted than the boyishly fey and ironically forlorn character who created the space for Morrissey to exist. His words are as complex as ever. As he sings over a driving motorik beat on In Your Eyes, "The point I’m trying to make is, I’m changing my mind / The politics of life are obscure". The final two tracks, All My Days and Searching for the Truth, are ballads that present him as a heart-on-sleeve troubadour, but it would be too convenient to conclude that he has found the answer in simple soul-searching. If anything, What Is My Role? is more representative of the 51-year-old Collins as, over a buzzing Magazine-ish riff, he wonders where he fits in the scheme of things. The answer is he doesn’t, which is precisely why he’s still of value.

Losing Sleep Tracklisting

1. Losing Sleep
2. What Is My Role? (co-written with Ryan Jarman)
3. Do It Again (co-written with Alex Kapranos & Nick McCarthy)
4. Humble
5. Bored
6. In Your Eyes (co-written with The Drums)
7. I Still Believe In You (co-written with Ryan Jarman)
8. Come Tomorrow, Come Today (co-written with Johnny Marr)
9. It Dawns On Me (co-written with Romeo Stodart)
10. Over The Hill
11. All My Days (co-written with Roddy Frame)
12. Searching For The Truth

Edwyn Collins Tour dates

8/15 - Inverness Book Festival (Acoustic show)
9/10 - End Of The Road Festival
9/23 - London Queen Elizabeth Hall


Edwyn Collins

Edwyn Collins

After Edwyn Collins suffered two strokes in 2005, followed by a dose of MRSA, one might reasonably have expected his music career to be over. Within two years, near-miraculously, he returned to the live stage, and released Home Again, the album he’d all but completed prior to his illness.

Even then, it seemed unlikely that this beloved Scot, who started out in the post-punk group Orange Juice and scored a massive worldwide hit with 1994’s A Girl Like You, would ever write and record again. When I spoke to him earlier this year, he falteringly explained how brain damage still makes it difficult for him to converse normally, and how his urge to compose music initially deserted him.

One night, however, he sat up in bed and asked his partner, Grace Maxwell, to fetch a tape recorder, on which to capture a melody running through his head. Thus arose the title track from this comeback album.

He’d been feeling pent-up, he realised, from not being creative, and had been losing sleep over it, literally — hence its title. In the weeks ahead, he had many more melodic visitations in the wee hours, lending the concept of losing sleep a happier connotation.

Unparalleled as its genesis is, Collins’s seventh solo record is also exceptionally good – an absolute ray of sunshine. He says that he wanted it to be uptempo and direct, where its predecessor was downbeat and, he now believes, foreboding. That title track gets it under way with a bone-crunching Northern Soul beat, as if defiantly to say: “No need for sympathy here!”

His singing voice, unlike his speaking voice, is remarkably as-was. In the song’s lyrics — “I must believe/ I must retrieve the things I know/ The things I miss about my life” — Collins muses on the loss of his memory and creativity, but with a vigorous, mood-elevating positivity.

Throughout, he explores the emotional impact of his illness in such consummately artful language as to make it seem universal. On What Is My Role?, a duet with the Cribs’s Ryan Jarman, he ponders over his sense of dislocation and his mood swings. In another collaboration, Do It Again, with Franz Ferdinand, he joyously celebrates the return of songwriting’s liberating power.

Also in the supporting cast are Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame, Brooklynite newcomers the Drums, and, on the breezy, devil-may-care Come Tomorrow, Come Today, Johnny Marr. With all these friends, Collins apparently forced the pace, coercing them to work spontaneously with him, making for a loose, vibrant, groove-based sound.

So, Losing Sleep is as much about human solidarity as it is individual strength, and music’s capacity to heal. It’s incredibly moving, but also, hands down, the most uplifting guitar-pop album of the year.

"One of my favorite
Pop Icon All Times!"


“It is also about amazing songwriting and musical craft, Losing Sleep is a

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