Edwin McCain Returns To Stripped Down Sound

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

If Edwin McCain happens to perform a song from his new album, "The Austin Sessions," at next year's Grammy Awards, don't expect a stage filled with candles, exotic dancers, and the New York Philharmonic. Don't look for any glitzy, high-priced videos on MTV or VH1 either, McCain says, because "you can build a house for somebody with the money you waste on them."

Over-the-top production, expensive video shoots, and anything that invokes the words "corporate" or "commercially viable" are the last things McCain wants to be a part of these days. "The Austin Sessions" (released Feb. 25 via ATC Records) is a return to the stripped-down approach and sound the 33-year-old South Carolina native was known for prior to signing a four-album deal with Atlantic Records in 1995. It is something he has been happily anticipating for a long time.

"I had a good time with all the people at Atlantic, but I was a square peg in a round hole after a while," says McCain, whose 1997 release for the label, "Misguided Roses," spawned the top-10 hit "I'll Be." "They were interested in me being a pop balladeer, and that's not my destiny."

The new album, the singer's sixth, was recorded in roughly 20 days, with a few of the songs being cut after the first take. In addition to the bare bones, acoustic feel, Sessions has some fan favorites from his days on the road, including a cover of Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet."

The new album, coupled with the November 2002 release of the DVD "Mile Marker: Songs & Stories From the Acoustic Highway" -- which features live performances, behind-the-scenes footage of the singer and his band, old videos, and an entertaining, Southern-style spoof of MTV's "Cribs" -- serve as gifts to the loyalists who have stuck by McCain since his early days playing on the resort island of Hilton Head in South Carolina.

"The whole package is sort of saying, 'I'm back doing what I originally started out doing,' " McCain notes. "There were a lot of people who were a little confused for a while there, when it was all big ballads and orchestras."

Constantly on the road, McCain is in the middle of a five-week tour covering the eastern portion of the U.S. If the new CD, DVD, and planned gigs weren't enough to keep him busy, the artist is also hosting "Inside Music With Edwin McCain," his own syndicated radio show on the Sirius satellite radio network.

Excerpted from the May 3, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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