The fact that Richard Edwards isn’t a household name hurts my heart. He is one of the most poetically talented writers producing music and has been for over a decade. His second official solo effort, Verdugo, is the perfect follow up to last year’s Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset. It’s bolder, stronger, fuller.
His first solo album was filled with loss and heartbreak – something his old band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s touched upon a lot – but this follow up feels like a true sequel. Songs are scattered with reassurance, recovery, and re-determination. The confidence his subjects have in the lyrics mirror his own path to finding his own footing again in the world.
The cult following of loyal fans will finally see some longtime demo favorites on an official tracklisting. “Olive Oyl” doesn’t disappoint in Edwards’s full onslaught vision. Meanwhile, “Pornographic Teens” is a stellar song to close out the album. He doesn’t limp into a fade out; he makes a statement as almost to say: I’m on the rise. My best stuff is yet to come.
His first single off of this album, “Minefield,” feels like a single. It’s catchy with an undeniably simple hook. It also is a welcoming sign that it isn’t his best song on the album. After my first listen the aftermentioned “Olive Oyl” stood out as well as his second single “Howlin Heart.” The instant favorite was “A Woman Who Can’t Say No.” It has elements of his early Margot albums with playful layers and infectious melodies.
After a handful of listens, it remains a standout of the ten songs (nine really, because “Tornado Dreams” is more of an interlude of his daughter who seemed to have grabbed a mic at one point). Similarly, he remains at the top of his skills when it is just him and his guitar. “Something Wicked” is a soft ballad perfected that could be covered and remixed by YouTube musicians because of how simple and wonderful the lyrics and guitar are written.
Vergudo is a perfect sequel to his solo career. It keeps things familiar, but expands them enough to show you that Edwards isn’t interested in repeating what makes his songs special. He simply wants to tweak them and master the skills in his melodic approach to intricate songwriting.