Edwyn Collins - Understated

Juices flowing abundantly

At the risk of sounding callous,
there was perhaps a tendency
to make allowances for
Collins’ previous two albums,
fans and critics alike
subconsciously judging the
records’ merits in relationship
to his ongoing recovery from
well-documented brain
haemorrhages. But while
2007’s Home Again and
2010’s Losing Sleep were
both solid but occasionally
patchy affairs, Understated is
an absolute triumph, matching
any of the high-water marks of
his past career.

From the soulful mariachi
blast of the opening Dilemma
to the tender acoustic cover of
Rod McKuen’s Love’s Been
Good To Me, which closes the
album, Collins draws deep
from his wells of confident
hooks, savvy pop sensibilities
and lyrical wit. There’s
a smidgen of early Velvets
elegance to Forsooth, echoes
of his old band Orange Juice’s
seductive jangle on the
sublime 51 Years, and a slow
burn soul groove to It’s
A Reason that would make
Al Green break out in a grin.

Collins’ past health issues
can’t be entirely overlooked,
though, as most of the songs
above make reference to what
he’s gone through (“I’m so
happy to be alive,” he sings
with gusto on Forsooth).
There’s an even more directly
autobiographical slant to the
pounding melodic grunge of In
The Now, the sound of an
assured singer and writer
undeniably back at the very top
of his game.

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars


Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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