Rhino Hi-Five: Edwin McCain
Previously in the Rhino Hi-Five series we explored the disappointing singer-songwriter Andrew Gold and found his lyricism wanting . Here we turn our attention to a vastly better singer-songwriter in South Carolina eponymous rock band Edwin McCain (named after its lead member, sensibly enough). In listening to this EP I have a strong advantage in that I am vastly more familiar with the catalog of Edwin McCain than I was of Andrew Gold’s, and also that I appreciate McCain’s work a lot more. Here, in this collection, we find that it is not McCain’s music that must be found wanting but the restrictive nature of the five-song EP. There are so many good songs that Edwin McCain has that a selection of five is going to miss whole categories of music that he made, and this album contains three songs from Edwin McCain’s mainstream debut, Honor Among Thieves, and one song each from the more popular second and third major label releases of Edwin McCain that hit the top 40 of the pop charts.
This EP has five songs. The first song is Edwin McCain’s signature song, “I’ll Be,” which remains his biggest hit, from McCain’s second major label release Misguided Roses. After that comes “I Could Not Ask For More,” a soundtrack song that also appeared on McCain’s third major label release “Messenger,” a gorgeous Diane Warren-penned song. The last three songs on the EP come from “Honor Among Thieves.” First among that closing set is “Solitude,” a downbeat song about a young man struggling with the repercussions of being institutionalized and how it affects his relationship with his parents. “3 AM” follows with another acoustic number, this one about the bittersweet clarity of insomnia. “America Street” closes the set with a rousing sax-driven populist anthem about main street social issues (including homelessness).
The end result is an album that is strangely front-loaded in Edwin McCain’s career, since only three albums from a much larger body of work. It is again rather pointless to complain about the album that one would have preferred, but if as a listener you find this EP to be a good one, be aware that McCain has a vastly larger and more diverse body of work than one finds here, but this EP does provide five songs worth listening to among dozens of excellent tracks by this notable singer-songwriter. Ideally, these may be the first five Edwin McCain songs one listens to but should not be the last. There is far more complex and beautiful music that the band has made over the course of their long career than what is shown here.
 See, for example: