Ballad of an Englishman

Ed Laurie ALBUM: âÄúMeanwhile In the ParkâÄù LABEL: Dangerbird Records If Nick Drake wasnâÄôt dead (God bless him), and he and José Gonzales started dating, their musically endowed lovechild would be Ed Laurie. The London-born singer-songwriterâÄôs debut âÄúMeanwhile in the Park,âÄù which was released in late September, is a surprisingly compelling debut. LaurieâÄôs sweet baritone vocals, which at times recall the late Israel KamakawiwoâÄôole, complement his effectively understated guitar work and crisp literate lyrics. Dangerbird Records signed Ed Laurie before ever actually meeting him. It took only a few songs before the L.A.-based label was convinced of his potential. Laurie finished an abridged American tour on Oct.10, stopping only in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. There is hope though, that his American label will have him returning for a longer stint in the United States after the release of his full-length. Cross your fingers and throw your pennies in wells; maybe Minneapolis will get a chance to check him out. Ed LaurieâÄôs Brazilian, Spanish and Eastern European roots greatly influenced him from a young age. His early exposure to classical music âÄî as well as Spanish guitar âÄî is clearly evident in the title track of âÄúMeanwhile in the ParkâÄù and continues intermittently throughout the album. Laurie gives us stark and clear images within his lyrics over a subtly complex backdrop of music. The world of this album combines the bitter with the sweet. LaurieâÄôs subjects span the scope of human emotion with a simple and straightforward delivery as he acts as a troubadour for the audience. âÄúMeanwhile in the ParkâÄù begins on a thoughtfully melancholy note with the title track and the second song âÄúI See No End,âÄù but it finishes off on a dreamily content one with the final two tracks of the album. In between are two character-driven songs, âÄúAlbertâÄù and âÄúJuliaâÄú which smack of The Beatles, but still hold true to LaurieâÄôs ongoing themes. The only problem with âÄúMeanwhile in the ParkâÄù is that its EP status leaves the listener wanting more. Due to the artistâÄôs relative jeunesse within the industry, the albumâÄôs seven tracks are a little over 26 minutes in length as a whole, unsatisfactory given LaurieâÄôs skill. Patience is a virtue though; a full-length titled âÄúSmall Boat Big SeaâÄù is due to follow up the EP. What sets Ed Laurie apart from many solo artists is his ability to carry the music while relying only on a guitar and his voice. There are no frills attached to this album, no unneeded backup band and no digital effects. Aside from some sparse and almost indiscernible percussion, âÄúMeanwhile in the ParkâÄù is just Laurie, nothing more, nothing less. That minimalist approach is incredibly refreshing in the face of a music industry whose cardinal sin is overproduction.