Jonathan Edwards | My Love Will Keep

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Folk: Modern Folk Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Type: Lyrical
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My Love Will Keep

by Jonathan Edwards

One of contemporary folk music’s most beloved performers – “the perfect remedy for depression” (Cashbox) – releases his first new studio CD in 14 years (remember "Sunshine" from the '70s?).
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Surrounded (feat. Claire Lynch)
4:46 album only
2. Johnny Blue Horizon (feat. Claire Lynch)
3:15 album only
3. My Love Will Keep
3:40 album only
4. Crazy Texas Woman
3:35 album only
5. She Loves You
6:42 album only
6. How Long (feat. Claire Lynch)
2:22 album only
7. This Island Earth
3:55 album only
8. Lightkeeper
4:18 album only
9. Tomorrow's Gonna Come
4:10 album only
10. Everybody Works in China
4:50 album only
11. Freewheeler (feat. Claire Lynch)
3:15 album only
12. Sailor's Prayer
4:43 album only


Album Notes
This CD’s title is the truth – it’s taken more than a dozen years for Jonathan Edwards to take time off from his touring and create a new studio CD, but it’s been worth the wait. There’s no question that Edwards remains a premiere troubadour of patient nature’s wonders and the people who are part of life’s cycle. Within the first thirty seconds of “Surrounded,” the self-penned original that opens "My Love Will Keep," the rich strum of an acoustic guitar, the sigh of a pedal steel guitar, and Edwards’s gentle tenor enfold listeners in a sense of warmth and peace.

In the forty years since Jonathan’s bouncy but draft-defiant “Sunshine” (“Go away today…”) from his debut LP became a Top 5 hit and gold record in 1971, the Virginia-raised, country and bluegrass-influenced Edwards has released numerous albums, most recently live recordings, maintained his fan base with steady touring, and still found time for a temporary retirement or two and side careers as an actor, film scorer, PBS documentary host, record producer and label owner.

As Jonathan writes in his liner notes, "My Love Will Keep" came from “a deep desire to follow the music from the stage to the studio.” Some of the CD’s dozen songs will be familiar to concertgoers, but all shine like new with a lustrous acoustic ambience thanks to the co-production by Jonathan and Jim Begley, sympathetic guest appearances by award-winning bluegrass singer Claire Lynch, solo artist and sideman Duke Levine’s (Peter Wolf, Mary Chapin Carpenter) understated electric guitar (among other instruments), vocalist Moondi Klein (formerly of the Seldom Scene), and Jonathan’s daughter Grace (vocals on the hymnlike “This Island Earth”).

Jonathan’s five original songs on the CD include the tranquil “Surrounded,” a similarly nature-centric “Johnny Blue Horizon” (written about John Denver but applying to Jonathan as well – “This world is missing you…/ Take us with you wherever you go”), the raucous “Crazy Texas Woman” (led by Jonathan on harmonica), the bluegrass romp “How Long,” and “Lightkeeper,” written for a same-titled movie, a celebration of Mother Ocean.

First among equals of the cover tunes is a gorgeous slow ballad arrangement of The Beatles’ “She Loves You” that is more meditation than celebration. Other stand-outs include Henry Gross’s wistful lament of US unemployment, “Everybody Works in China,” an adaptation of fellow Appleseed artist Jesse Winchester’s “Freewheeler,” and the closing “Sailor’s Prayer,” written by Rod MacDonald, which works literally and allegorically in relating “to what we face as a family of man, as a species, as a planet.”

Jonathan’s distinctive, country-inflected voice, multi-instrumental mastery (guitar, bass, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin) and superlative choice of material, arrangements and sidepersons were away from the studio for way too long. It’s a good thing that his love, and ours, have kept so well and rewarded us with this superlative CD.

What if:
-- Jonathan Edwards had graduated from his ROTC military high school, joined the Army, and shipped out to Vietnam, never to write his most famous song, “Sunshine,” inspired by “an unforgettably terrifying experience” at his pre-induction draft board physical?
-- What if the engineer working on Jonathan’s 1971 eponymous debut album hadn’t accidentally erased a song, necessitating the addition of “Sunshine” to the record, which led to the song’s success as a Top 5 hit single and Gold Record status?
-- What if Jonathan had enjoyed his mid-Seventies hiatus from the music business and stayed on his farm in Nova Scotia?

Fortunately for us, none of the above scenarios came true and Jonathan is now celebrating his fifth decade of performing, songwriting and recording with the release of his new "My Love Will Keep" CD.

Born in Minnesota, Jonathan moved to Virginia at age six when his father’s government job dictated a family relocation. John’s first public performance was a solo in church when he was eight, and the music bug sank its teeth into him. He began playing the family piano by ear, augmented by a few music lessons from a neighbor, but soon switched to guitar. “I immediately started putting a band together, writing songs, and learning all of the contemporary folk songs of the time,” he recalls. “I just loved it, loved everything about it, loved being in front of people playing music.”

After a couple of years studying art and painting in college, Jonathan decided to “go electric” musically and dropped out of school. He and his band, eventually known as Sugar Creek, spent the next few years playing more than 100 gigs annually throughout New England, cutting an album on Metromedia in 1969.

More comfortable with the sound of “bronze strings on rosewood” than “steel strings on magnets,” Jonathan left Sugar Creek and started performing as an acoustic solo artist. Signed by Capricorn Records, Jonathan recorded his first album throughout 1970. When a studio engineer accidentally erased a finished song, Jonathan added the deceptively upbeat “Sunshine,” his declaration of independence from the US war machine, and it became his self-titled 1971 album’s first single, reaching the national Top 5 record charts and earning him a gold record.

Suddenly a household name and a touring headliner, Jonathan reacted to his unexpected success in a song on his next album that declared “I don’t let it change all the things I believe in.” Although he moved to a farm in Massachusetts, Jonathan spent the next three years steadily touring, recording three more albums, and achieving burnout from road life. With a life-threatening illness as an additional factor, Jonathan decided to abandon his career and moved even farther from the music biz, to a farm in Nova Scotia.

But fate, in the form of country-pop singer and friend Emmylou Harris and her producer/husband, Brian Ahern, soon beckoned Jonathan to Los Angeles to add backing vocals to her 1975 Elite Hotel album. His relationship with Ahern led to two more Edwards albums, "Rockin’ Chair" (1976) and "Sailboat" (1977). Moving back to the US, first to New Hampshire, then to the Appalachian region of Virginia, Jonathan began attending local shows by acclaimed progressive bluegrass band the Seldom Scene, soon joining them on stage and then moving the pickin’ party into a recording studio. The resultant collaborative album, "Blue Ridge" (1985), showcased Jonathan’s longtime country/bluegrass leanings to excellent advantage.

The birth of his daughter Grace in 1976 inspired a song that would became the title track of 1987’s "Little Hands: Songs for and About Children," which mixed traditional folk songs and whimsical original compositions. The album was named a “Notable Children’s Recording” by the American Library Association and remains a strong seller to this day.

Jonathan next moved into acting, touring with fellow singers Nicolette Larson (“Lotta Love”) and Henry Gross, ex-Sha Na Na and a hitmaker on his own (“Shannon”), in the Broadway show “Pump Boys and Dinettes” for six months. When the play hit Nash- ville, friends there including solo artist Wendy Waldman connected Jonathan with a producer, studio, top musicians and some great songs, which turned into his 1989 album "The Natural Thing."

During the ’90s, Jonathan launched his own record label, Rising Records, and released "One Day Closer," his first album in five years. He also scored the 1996 film “The Mouse,” produced such artists as Cheryl Wheeler, and recorded what would be his last studio album for 14 years, "Man in the Moon." The start of the 21st Century found Jonathan hosting the PBS documentary series “Cruising America’s Waterway,” as he traveled by boat from Canada to Florida; along the way, a riverside concert became a video, “Cruising America’s Waterways: The Concert at Sackets Harbor,” released in 2001. That same year, he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his “Sunshine” hit with his “First Annual Farewell Tour.” His subsequent activities included recording two live albums, (one of them, "Rollin’ Along: Live in Holland," to satisfy his rabid following in the Netherlands), and becoming the subject of a 90-minute documentary entitled “That’s What Our Life Is.” He also acted in and provided the soundtrack for the 2009 movie “The Golden Boys.”

Then it was time to head to a Maine recording studio to record the much anticipated" My Love Will Keep," his first CD since "Man in the Moon" and his first for Appleseed. Forget the “what if’s” – Jonathan Edwards has a great new CD and a busy tour schedule that will keep him spreading his musical sunshine.



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