Billy Edwin--the recording handle for Los Angeles-based Mike Levy--has released Life is Short, a four-song EP which follows August 2020’s New American West album. Each of the four songs in the collection is an original Edwin (Levy) composition.
Edwin’s musical roots stretch back to the mid-90’s Southern California punk-rock scene, so he is no stranger to the studio. For Life is Short, he handled engineering and production himself with terrific-sounding results. Edwin’s vocals, guitars, bass and harmonica performances are augmented by a strong supporting cast of guest musicians, including Adam Salzman and Rich Culley (guitars), Phil Parlapiano (keys), Amy Aileen Wood (drums), and Barry Stricke (backing vocals). In short, it’s a professionally-executed record, helped by a sparkling, professional mix (courtesy of McCulley).
Stylistically, Life is Short fits right into the Americana rock/country/alt-country bucket, although Edwin adds a few twists. The opener “The Road” is a straight-ahead rocker, featuring nice piano thump underneath and organ up top. The production is, well, professional, with a nice balance between gritty and softer sounds; there’s not a hair out of place, yet it still feels like rock.
The musical twists start with “Ballad of a Privileged Man” where Edwin’s lyrics turn a disapproving eye towards narcissists. Underneath, the song employs an unusual meter on the verse, which gives the track a lilt and an urgency to drive the message home. The acoustic-guitar love ballad “She’s My Best” continues the off-kilter feel with shifting downbeats set against a plaintive harmonica line. The ending lyric brings a smile with an atypical couplet: “She keeps me calm like a cigarette / She’s my best / Her name’s Annette.” Hey, if it makes Annette happy…
The title track closer “Life is Short” is a radio-ready country-rock anthem from a band to its audience--or for a struggling friend. Edwin brings out his punk roots here with the chunky guitars and pounding drums giving the song a bit of a harder edge than your standard mainstream country fare. It’s another well-constructed track with strong backing vocals, guitar solos and shifting dynamics. Edwin finishes by telling his friend, “Hang on there … we’ll be on stage again.”
And good thing. This is solid rock n’roll, and we’d like more of it. Life is short, so spin it today!
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