Edwyn Collins Edwyn CollinsLosing Sleep
Edwyn Collins could be a subject for one of those tearjerker biopics that turn Ron Howard on so much—time will tell—and his life hasn’t been a living hell these last five years for nothing. After having two cerebral haemorrhages, the former leader of Orange Juice –keep an eye open, fans, because a special boxed set will be out soon with their essential discography– lost the ability to speak, to write, to read, and also an important part of the mobility of the right side of his body. After this stack of misfortunes, many of us gave him up as lost to music, and definitively incapable of getting back on stage. But a miracle has occurred! His wife and manager, Grace Maxwell, became his guardian angel and an implacable governess with the strictness necessary to help Edwyn overcome this nightmare. There’s no need to emphasise the bravery and character of our star: gradually, starting from scratch, he has managed to return to normalcy (to a certain extent, because he still suffers from some of the consequences), to hold his guitar again and to speak again. People who want to know more about this tragic story need only take a look at the wonderful BBC documentary that filmed this process, “Edwyn Collins: Home Again”, and which takes us in the exact direction to understand this album, “Losing Sleep”, for what it really is: Collins’ best album in recent years, and the living proof of the power of the will, in spite of the adversities that life has prepared for us.
He could have taken the easy route and wallowed in his own suffering, but Collins preferred, to his credit, to leave autobiographical references aside to do what he knows how to do best: old-school rock’n’roll, to spit in the face of younger generations. His sound hasn’t changed a bit, and that doesn’t matter much when it is done so well done. Obviously, there’s a bit of a trick to it, but since we’re such good people, we’ll forgive old Edwyn for all of that and more. The Scottish bard has called on some of his friends and sympathisers, from Alex Kapranos ( Franz Ferdinand) to Ryan Jarman ( The Cribs), including The Drums and Romeo Stodart ( The Magic Numbers), to help him write and sing some of the pieces of this indie rock phoenix that smells of class and knowing how to hold one’s own, with a taste like a great album put out by an indestructible artist.
What better way to show that he can still give his all than the single with the same name? It’s a shot of northern soul, led by an implacable drum with the power to leave Mark Ronson looking like a fool (of course). Ryan Jarman –Collins produced the album of his band, The New Fellas– doubles up with two songs that ooze the essence of The Cribs: “ What Is My Role?” and “I Still Believe in You”, which are some of the best to be found on the album, along with “Do It Again” or “In Your Eyes”, which are two songs on which (going back to what we were saying before about the album’s collaborations) the contemporary heirs of Collins’ musical ideas, Alex Kapranos and the main hype of 2010, The Drums, participate.
A good sample of Collins’ simplicity is condensed in “Bored”, with the deep guitar and choruses that could only come from the mind of a gentleman of the kind that are few and far between lately. And if all that weren’t enough, there could be no better closing than “All My Days”, a tender lament that owes a lot to the affected melodies of the Beach Boys, and “Searching for the Truth”, a song where he gets down to it with his guitar to end up imitating Springsteen with the harmonica stuck to his mouth, making it clear that he won’t be stepping down from his pedestal, however much life insists on screwing him over. Edwyn Collins is back stronger than ever. So in the face of this, we can only kneel before the evidence of the miracle and welcome him.
Sergio del Amo