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The EDLOS

A Cappella Country (1995)

3.6

July 15, 1999

Tuning / Blend 3.8
Energy / Intensity 4.2
Innovation / Creativity 3.2
Soloists 3.6
Sound / Production 3.6
Repeat Listenability 2.8
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 3.6
2 Tupelo Honey 3.6
3 Goodbye to White Deer 3.4
4 Born to Yodel 3.6
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 3.4
6 High Hill 3.8
7 Big Bad John 3.4
8 Faded Love 3.2
9 The Cattle Call 3.0
10 Truck Drivin' Man 4.0
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 3.6
12 Castin' My Lasso 3.6

Recorded 1994 – 1995
Total time: 38:51, 12 songs


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 5
2 Tupelo Honey 3
3 Goodbye to White Deer 4
4 Born to Yodel 4
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 3
6 High Hill 5
7 Big Bad John 3
8 Faded Love 3
9 The Cattle Call 3
10 Truck Drivin' Man 4
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 3
12 Castin' My Lasso 3

If you're thinking Garth Brooks without the guitar, think again. The Edlos ain't just wearing those cowboy hats on the album cover to make a fashion statement. No sir, this is a traditional country album with traditional cowboy songs. This is songs like Big Bad John, Castin' My Lasso, and Born to Yodel. These songs are to contemporary country music what the Weavers and Woody Guthrie are to contemporary folk-rock.

If you're ready for some oldies, there's plenty for you to enjoy here. The Edlos come at these likeable tunes with a Bobs-esq energy. (A comparison that's easy to make thanks to Ed Cohn's bass vocals, which are often favorably reminiscent of Richard "Bob" Greene.) Unfortunately, a lot of the songs have shrill harmonies — They're probably aiming for a country twang, but it just sounds nasal. For example, Tupelo Honey, a Van Morrison cover that fits in with the rest of the material rather nicely, had the potential to be winner, but is brought to its knees by the nasal sound.

The CDs real gems are a charming For Ever and Ever, Amen and the instantly grabbing High Hill, (which sounds like a cross between Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound and Springstein's I'm on Fire). If you like country and want to have a real roots record (or if you like Americana in general), well, this is YOUR a cappella album.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 3
2 Tupelo Honey 3
3 Goodbye to White Deer 3
4 Born to Yodel 5
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 3
6 High Hill 4
7 Big Bad John 4
8 Faded Love 3
9 The Cattle Call 3
10 Truck Drivin' Man 4
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 3
12 Castin' My Lasso 5

If your love is a cappella country, you're pretty much obligated to get The Edlos', A Cappella Country. Nashville Network better wake up and get these long-haired, ten gallon wearin' musicians some air-time. Ol' time bom-bom bass meets twang and tweet made a convert out of me.

The sound is pretty bare-bones: straight ahead, unpretentious singing. After a day of ropin' and smokin' Marlboros, any cowboy worth his chew ought to be plumb proud to sit by a campfire and listen to the Edlos. All cowboy jokes aside, quite a few songs can draw you in and a few are amusing. There are a number which don't quite do either, but they still carry the country theme of the album and once you get over the occasional overly nasal counter-tenor note or unduly bowsery bass note this album is pretty enjoyable.

Either Born To Yodel or Castin' My Lasso takes the cake as my favorite track. And let me say that Eric Morris has some extremely facile chops. In the end, with titles like Castin' my Lasso, Big Bad John and Your Cheatin' Heart you get just what you expect out of this good time a cappella country band. I liked it. And I expect you will too. Pardner.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 3
2 Tupelo Honey 4
3 Goodbye to White Deer 3
4 Born to Yodel 3
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 4
6 High Hill 3
7 Big Bad John 4
8 Faded Love 3
9 The Cattle Call 3
10 Truck Drivin' Man 4
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 4
12 Castin' My Lasso 2

Well, the Edlos can't be faulted for being too mainstream. At the time of this release, a cappella country music was an unheard of thought. And the Edlos approach this album like they approach a lot of their music...somewhat tongue in cheek, with a few pretty moments.

The Edlos' version of country is the Hank Williams-ish old time cowboy stuff for the most part (as opposed to the '80s sounding "young country" of Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the like). They do that in an attempt to bring their humor value out at times, other time to stay true to the material. Sometimes they sing songs straight...and when they do this, they sound their best, I feel. When they start doing the effected singing necessary to sound western, their tuning suffers a little (even though they do ring some nice chords on occasion). For the most part, they have some funny moments, some poignant moments, and some darn good musical moments. I was really impressed in particular with their rhythmic work in some of the faster songs...very fluid, very believable country instrumental effects.

The big problem is...I don't enjoy country. My favorite songs were the non-country songs....the Van Morrison and Randy Newman tracks specifically (the Newman would have gotten a five except for a really strained-sounding solo). The country songs were a nice novelty, but don't hold up on repeated plays. The whole album screams "novelty"...and if that's what the Edlos were going for, they got it in spades.

The bottom line: Good sounding group, interesting album, if you're into cowboy boots, line dancing and the like, you'll enjoy this trip into a cappella land. For a non-country fan, though, it's hard to get through.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 2
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 5
2 Tupelo Honey 3
3 Goodbye to White Deer 3
4 Born to Yodel 4
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 4
6 High Hill 3
7 Big Bad John 3
8 Faded Love 4
9 The Cattle Call 3
10 Truck Drivin' Man 5
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 3
12 Castin' My Lasso 5

When viewing the album cover for The Edlos, you see larger-than-life men in full cowboy threads and 10 gallon hats. It makes one expect hokey, southern-drawl, country music. On the contrary, this album is #1 on my list in terms of "Pleasant Surprise Album". When reviewing, it is more difficult to carefully scrutinize an album when one is not very familiar with the genre of music. I am not a country music fan, except for the occasional female crossover voice that I listen to.

Country music on the album, yes. Country music lyrics, yes. Country music sounding instruments (it's still a cappella!), yes. So why was I completely drawn to the sound of The Edlos? Their enthusiasm for singing, their humor in their music, and their crisp, balanced blend. Recreating slide guitars, harmonicas, a cow's "moo", and amazingly rapid yodeling are all intricacies on this album. Having particular attention to detail is an element The Edlos have mastered. Tight singing with nearly flawless tuning appears on every track. Foot-stomping, hand-clapping music whirls past, and the entire album is entertaining and delightful.

What it lacks are arrangements with complexity, difficult lines, and creativity within what each member actually sings "overall". I would have liked fancier arrangements, not ones that have a few things here or there that catch your attention. This may be attributed to the simple nature of many country music songs, with verse/chorus form being common.

If you like country music, this album belongs in your collection. If you hate it, pass. If you're like me and feel indifferent about country music on the whole, you may want to add The Edlos to your collection merely to expand your horizons of a cappella music.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 2
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 1
Tracks
1 For Ever and Ever, Amen 2
2 Tupelo Honey 5
3 Goodbye to White Deer 4
4 Born to Yodel 2
5 Your Cheatin' Heart 3
6 High Hill 4
7 Big Bad John 3
8 Faded Love 3
9 The Cattle Call 3
10 Truck Drivin' Man 3
11 I Think It's Gonna Rain Today 5
12 Castin' My Lasso 3

There's something that's just not healthy when an a cappella group tries to sounds country. To me, country music is a really beautiful musical style. The problem is taking the stereotype and pushing that on some tracks.

For instance, the first track was an irritating blend of country and barbershop which I was embarrassed to listen to. However, when Tupelo Honey came up, I was impressed because the Edlos weren't trying to sound country. High Hill, and I Think It's Gonna Rain Today were also impressive.

I suppose I would've been far more impressed and appreciative of the CD if a few "contemporary" country tracks had been attempted. The thing about music is that it's supposed to be a universal thing that should translate well across genres and groups. More often than not, I felt like the Edlos were trying to fit into country, rather then taking country songs and interpreting them for themselves.

Technically, I have no gripes with the basics — tuning, blend, production...the biggest problem is overall interpretation of an easily stereotyped genre. If your into a lot of yodeling, you may like this. To me, it was an unspectacular recording.

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