Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars20
4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: MP3 Download|Change
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2013
We probably don't realise how lucky we are to still have the great Edwyn Collins making music like this. Having made a near miraculous recovery from his double stroke in 2005 and returned to recording with the stonkingly brilliant Losing Sleep in 2010, he has now surpassed himself with a collection of songs which are right up there with anything he has done thus far in his illustrious solo career (which has also, of course, included other highpoints such as the Gorgeous George and I'm Not Following You albums). If this album with its vibrant pop music sensibility is a measure of the potential of Analogue-Enhanced-Digital (Collins' own humorously titled label) and his London West Heath Studios, then I am all for it.

For Understated, the great man has eschewed the all-star line-up (and shared composing duties) employed on Losing Sleep and instead has penned all the songs himself (other than the syrupy, but no doubt heartfelt, cover of Rod McKuen's Love's Been Good To Me that closes the album), performing them with the accompaniment of his current regular collaborators such as Paul Cook, Sebastian Lewsley, Sean Read, Dave Ruffy, James Walbourne, Barry Cadogan, etc . Given the album's rather muted title, it is perhaps not surprising (on a number of songs) to find Collins in quite a reflective lyrical mood. On the melancholic but sublimely soulful Baby Jean, Collins reflects on life's struggle ('I got music to see me through, I got art to ease the pain'), whilst two of the album's standouts are 31 Years, in which this Scots poet recognises the contribution to his soul's well-being of his 31 years in the music business, whilst the heart-breaking magnificence of the album's title song, with its superb piano opening and mellotron-backed lilting melody, accompany Collins' simple autobiographical tale.

But the thing that is frankly revelatory about Understated is the positivity that emanates from its grooves (I suppose CDs have grooves). This takes both musical and lyrical form. Each of Carry On, Carry On and Too Bad (That's Sad) wouldn't be out of place on a new Four Tops (or maybe Dexy's) album, so full of Motown (or Northern Soul)-inspired ebullience are they, whilst each of It's A Reason and, in particular, the life-affirming Forsooth are as clear a statement as you could get as to where Collins is in his life at the moment (and it is a true joy to behold). Similarly, the beautifully melancholic Down The Line, whilst being shot through with life's frustrations, still reflects a residual positivity.

But what Collins continues to bring to modern 'pop music' is his unfailing sense of witty irony all dressed up in rambunctious rhythm and melody, and nowhere are these qualities better encapsulated than on album opener, the darkly satirical Dilemna - spelled that way because apparently Collins' mother-in-law Mrs Maxwell says so - ('That's me, that's me all over') and (my current favourite), the pulsating statement that is In The Now, with its Suede-like guitar, where Collins' preoccupations with the modern world are finally dispelled ('Racing through my landscape, it's wild and free'), all to the accompaniment of James Walbourne's searing guitar solo and Sean Read's Andy Mackay-like saxophone.

I can hardly wait for next month's gig at the Union Chapel. Post-gig update: Truly amazing (and heart-warming) performance from Edwyn - and a special mention for the astonishing guitar of James Walbourne (one of the finest I've seen in years) and for Carwyn Ellis' superb bass and keyboards.
66 comments|19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 March 2013
Edwyn Collins proves that he is worth every ounce of the praise that has been heaped on him in recent years. He has always been a great singer and song writer and here he come up trumps again. There are so few musicians that can cut through all the music industry nonsense these days and come out sounding so original and true to themselves as Edwyn Collins, still fewer who were bog in the early 1980s that can do more than milk the nostalgia bandwagon. Edwyn proves here that he is current and relevant with an album that doe not have a dud amongst the 11 songs on it. well done Edwyn!
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 May 2013
Understated seems to be an odd title for an album of alternative rock tunes, with punky basslines and fuzzy guitar solos, but on repeated listens I've realised it appropriate. Everyone of these tunes has a storyteller's touch, clever writing informed by life experience and an eye for odd little details of life that perhaps only matter to people who have missed them. Sometimes the stories are ambiguous. I still can't figure out what happened to that graphic artist aged 19 who became a singer `of sorts.' The protagonist of the title song is so understated he only hints at some event in the past. Or maybe it's an attempt to capture the whole of a life's experience in a short description, and marvel at how ineffective that is. Or maybe it just sounds good. Yes, definitely that last one.

It is hard not to see this album through the lens of Edwyn Collin's recent illness (and inspiring recovery,) especially when so many of the lyrics deal with hope, living in the now, being grateful for what you have, staving off bitterness, the comfort of art and doing what you love. But why shouldn't those themes apply to all of us. The healthy and able need that comfort and perspective as much as anyone, though we often don't see it. Stopping and taking joy in the little things is a practice much recommended by the poets, as the protagonist does in Carry On, Carry On, where a polite conversation in the street becomes a meditation on the simple joys of life. "What a nice day Sir. How about you Miss?"

All of the original songs are excellent and though I was less enamoured with the cover of Love's Been Good To Me, it ends the album on a satisfying note. In the album opener, the punchy Dilemma, the vocals are allowed to become sketchy with the final refrain of `Over and over and over...' becoming almost a toneless scream. But Baby Jean immediately reassures us that Collin's is in perfect control of his singing voice, with savvy vocals over smooth, picked bassline. Too Bad, That's Sad is an upbeat breakup song, about moving on to freedom, which breaks into a blistering slide solo, while Down the Line brings in a country-style fingerpicked riff, backed by low harmonies. Forsooth strikes a mellow note with organ and clean guitars, while Collins sings about gratitude and making the most of what you have, before a growling abstract guitar solo emerges for a moment then sinks below the surface. But my favourite must be In the Now, which evokes rosy childhood nostalgia before putting it away to deal with the reality of life. `I'm living in the Now,' declares the chorus, `Living and working,' while the guitar snarls its fuzzy riff, and the sax takes solo that evokes classic Bowie albums.

Barrie Cadogan, James Walbourne and Paul Cook deserve a shout out for their performances too. The music is fine and detailed, and the whole band sounds like a tight, veteran rock outfit, with solos and fills that are frankly inspiring. The production is full, but not layered like a modern rock album, instead each instrument sounds rich and full, which is the classic approach I like.

I ordered the 180g Vinyl which was crackle free and loud, and got a CD version of the album, as well as a live EP recorded at the Bloomsbury Ballroom November 2009, where you can hear Collins in great form with the band. The artwork (also by Collins) is great and my special edition package (purchased directly from AED) came with a signed postcard (mine was the Dipper) and came in a printed paper bag harking back to the old days of record stores (which I am too young to remember.) This is an absolutely beautiful package and a lesson to major labels on how this should be done.

Have I convinced you to buy this yet? Well if you're a Collins fan why wouldn't you? If not, rest assured this isn't a compilation of outtakes or a Madcap Laughs style project. This is another solid solo album from an amazing songwriter, proving he still has what it takes to make great music.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 April 2013
After his near fatal death experience and critically acclaimed comeback album Losing Sleep , he has now produced another life affirming album. Many of the songs have a classic Motown or Stax sensibility sounding as if they could have been produced in the 1960's, and are generally up-tempo. He has a new band of supporting musicians, and inevitably with his literally new lease of life some of the songs dwell on his recent personal circumstances. 31 Years reflects on his time and career as a working musician, while Dilemna ponders on what is the point of his life. However, it is not a melancholy or maudlin collection, his voice is on fine form, and it is a further addition to his fine series of previous albums. Carry On ,Carry On seems to be a take on how people in the street respond to his current physical state. I had the good fortune to see him in live performance for the first time a couple of years ago, and despite his more limited physical ability his ongoing enthusiasm for music and commitment to making the best of his new condition shone through really strongly. He deserves to be better known, applauded and loved by a wider audience, and this latest album strengthens his position as a cherished elder statesman of UK pop and soul, good one Edwyn,well done!
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 April 2013
What a wonderfully joyous experience listening to this album produces. I love it. No-one plays Motown like Edwyn. And no-one is as glad to be alive and able to express it like Edwyn. It's reassuring, these days, that an albums release can be so exciting to hear, with each song punching above its weight and never outstaying its welcome. Top Tunes. And even the slushy cover closer, straying into Richard Hawley territory, works as a tender kiss off.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 2013
all killer no filler,top notch songs from a much overlooked great of the british music scene,knocks yon shite in the top 40 into a cocked hat
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 April 2014
Edwyn's second coming after his tragic bleed a few years ago is nothing short of remarkable. For somebody whose daily challenges remain speech and comfortable movement, his recording output since he returned to recording encapsulates much of his best work.
Understated demonstrates many of his influences, not least northern soul and blues. The contributions of Collins Junior are also apparent in this the best of the trilogy he has recorded post illness.

That said, this album stands up against any of Edwyn's work since 1980 on it's own merits and whilst I really have all of his outpu over the years, I really think this could be his best work to date.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 April 2013
As a long time admirer of the fabulously talented Mr Collins, I may be a little biased in my view of this album, but I'm not a sycophant (see my review of Doctor Syntax!). I think this is a grower of an album that unravels it's joy a bit at a time, until you can fully see the naked beauty underneath. Fully deserving of 5 stars.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 April 2013
Just seen Edwin in concert ,,,I've seen loads n loads of gigs but he was ,,unblievable ,and his band were awesome ! Inspiring as anything. Anyway buy this album it's uplifting as anything!! Edwin ,,,everyone was buzzing at the lemon tree thank you !
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 October 2013
Dear old Edwyn is a bit wobbly in his voice but the soul and magic still carries on, and a bonus for me was having this album go straight to the Amazon cloud player before the physical disc arrived.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)