May 26, 2023

If the name Luke Andrew Edwards may not be familiar to many readers in the UK, take note that he is a Californian singer/songwriter in the country rock vein, fortunate to be blessed with a musical family, his brothers Jesse and Jerry playing bass and drums in his band. Their recording debut was an EP in 2015, since when Out Of The Heart Of Darkness is their fourth full-length offering. The songs sit on the boundary between pop and light rock, drawing comparisons with Jackson Brown and Tom Petty; indeed Edwards’ second album, Blessings From Home Vol. 1, was produced by Ron Blair from Petty’s band, and featured him and fellow Heartbreaker Steve Ferrone on bass and drums. But although it’s easy enough to hear a connection to such classic American artists, his music mainly brings British bands to mind, which is strange, as there’s a good chance Edwards may never have heard of some or all of the acts mentioned below.

This latest offering was recorded in Seattle just as a family trio, but it’s also a pretty stripped-down sound which is deliberately designed to capture the atmosphere of the mountainous wilderness, which I have to say, it does very well. Edwards’ vocals are tuneful but austere, without the flowery embellishments of a show-off frontman, and thus come across as the honest musings of a simple man of the land – those in the UK who wish to experience the sound will be able to catch them supporting The White Buffalo in July.

Only their mother can tell them apart – the Edwards brothers (photo by Miller Hawkins)

The opening seems somewhat out of character with the rest of the set; a 30-second clip starting with quiet birdsong, as a young boy describes a traumatic scenario, being under the water in total darkness – but then it bursts into an upbeat country-pop number called Little Boy Blue, about coming home to stay for good. Second song Now You Know is certainly one of my favourites from the album, with a distinctly Celtic air, bringing Scottish rockers Big Country to mind – the solo is played on a tin whistle or something similar; in fact I think it may actually be two tin whistles in harmony; there is an acoustic guitar and a piano on this catchy ditty too, Luke himself playing the keys.

Let It Out has more of a grungy style, with clapping percussion and a great, tight ending; the vocals have an air of UK singer/songwriter David Gray about them. This becomes more noticeable on the minor-key Surrender, which returns to cleaner instrumental sounds, bringing the David Gray-style phrasing even more to the fore; in fact this is the clearest comparison I can give to Luke’s musical style.

Time To Go veers more towards the rocky edge of the set, with more tones of Big Country, and features some neat, spacy, phased and electronic effects, while drifting between acoustic guitar and full-band sections; there is no shortage of textures in this one. Nevertheless, Tom Petty’s influence breaks cover on Hi Rite Now – the spelling of the title wisely hides the content to some degree, as the protagonist laments that “we’re not having any fun any more,” and states his desire to get “high right now,” and ideally, never to come down. Good luck to him on that one.

Stick To You features a jangly, open-chord, acoustic guitar intro, which gradually eases into a gentle rhythm by the two-minute mark, and yes, it’s David Gray once again. Another texture is introduced on the intro to Already Gone, (an original song by the way, not the Eagles classic), which opens on a few bars of big church organ – apart from Now You Know, this is probably the catchiest song in the set, the lead single, with a definite, rim-shot country vibe. More Phantom Of The Opera organ closes the song; catch the official video at the foot of this page.

The last two numbers feature another pretty neat, imaginative musical tweak – Peace Be With You starts with another acoustic guitar intro, but builds to a relatively heavy wall of sound in the middle, bringing Coldplay to mind, but then it plays out on a haunting, heavily-reverbed piano passage. This outro is actually a precursor to the final song Lucky One, which opens on a reverse-recorded cymbal or some such effect, before launching into a decently rocky beat with the same chords as the previous playout, and in the same key, effectively tying the last two numbers together. Luke handles bass duties himself on this song, which sounds even more like Coldplay, or even Snow Patrol – two more British bands for you – and the whole album comes to a wrenching stop on a really tight drum-roll ending.

So there you have it – an American band, with American influences, but somehow it seems to play neatly into the UK market. Hopefully for the brothers, they can make inroads in both; I hope so.

Out Of The Heart Of Darkness by L.A. Edwards will be available from 2nd June 2023 via Bitchin’ Music Group