McCain’s sound ‘Lost’

Edwin McCain truly had the winning lottery ticket with the massive hit song “I’ll Be.” With the number of times the song was played – perhaps overplayed – on the radio, it seemed as though it didn’t take long before most of the world knew all the lyrics to the song even if they didn’t want to.

It was around that time in the early ’90s when music such as McCain’s and similar bands such as Sister Hazel and Hootie & The Blowfish gave the term “frat-rock” its place as a musical genre. McCain’s seventh album, Lost In America, proves he may be able to deliver a tune, but ultimately leaves much to be desired.

Hailing from Greenville, S.C., the rootsy singer/songwriter adds equal parts jazz and soul to his music. The rawness and unfiltered emotion in McCain’s voice has always made it more appealing and easily recognizable. For this reason, Lost In America disappoints. Much of the album strays from McCain’s earlier style and has a more manufactured sound.

For example, the first single and the only noteworthy track on the album, “Gramercy Park Hotel,” is catchy and a little redundant. But then there are lyrics that sarcastically refer to the control the entertainment industry has over their artists, such as when McCain sings, “All of these hit men, look like organ grinders to me / Well give me lil’ hat lil’ vest and lil’ monkey bell.”

Like all of McCain’s music, the rest of the album lyrically tells a different story in each song. For example, McCain captures the Southern heartland by telling stories of traditional American blue-collar workers and the hardships they face in the song “Welcome To Struggleville.” The song “Black and Blue” is a story about a young woman addicted to drugs. Regretfully, there’s only one slow song (“Losing Tonight”), which has a chorus reminiscent of another big hit for McCain in the early ’90s called “I Could Not Ask For More.”

In addition to the album’s over-produced sound, there’s an aggressive rock edge that diverts from McCain’s soulful root rock days that may or may not go over well with his fans. Minus a couple songs, the majority of the album takes on a live approach.

Edwin McCain and his band come to the State Theater in St. Petersburg on June 24.