A GIRL CALLED EDDY – ” Been Around “

Posted: December 5, 2020 in MUSIC

The top five best-selling albums in the UK in 2004 came from Katie Melua, Maroon 5, Robbie Williams, Keane and, at the top, the Scissor Sisters, while the Christmas Number 1 was Band Aid 20. R.E.M. and George Michael released their worst albums, while almost everybody else decided it was time for a Greatest Hits. Within this rather variable landscape emerged one of the finest records of the last twenty years and an enduring favourite of mine: A Girl Called Eddy’s self-titled debut. Erin Moran’s first set, recorded with Richard Hawley, fused a New Jersey sensibility with the spacious atmospherics of Sheffield’s finest. It has hints of Bacharach and Aimee Mann, to name just a couple, but it stands alone, unique. And it often seemed that it would stand alone as the only album of her career, with rumoured follow-ups mentioned and forgotten at several points in the decade and a half that followed.

However, after news emerged at the end of 2019, January delivered ‘Been Around’. Given adoration of the debut, this was a must-listen and with it came a set of expectations so ridiculous it was almost impossible for those initial plays to be remotely objective.

The production is smoother, the songs more soulful and the whole thing rather bigger than its predecessor. The Bacharach swoon is still there, with lashings of Seventies guitar and AM radio horns. Working with Daniel Tashian, who was involved in Kacey Musgraves‘ wonderful ‘Golden Hour’, Moran has put together a record that offers hope in winter and exudes warmth from every note. Its sheen may catch you out if you approach  in the claustrophobic chasm of exasperation that events in 2020 can initiate, seeming a little too plush for this world, but a more casual listen may quickly transform into a moment of delight. 

From the neat “Girl, where you been?” that prefaces the opener onwards, it’s clear that there is a lightness at play. This is not the tortured outcome of sixteen years of perfectionism. In setting the scene, the title track explains that Moran has “been around enough to trace the years upon my face; this is the place I’m happy to be.” The highlight is ‘Jody’, a tribute to a departed friend which celebrates a life well-lived across a buoyant, soulful backdrop. The lyric “He liked to call me kid, I liked it when he did” captures something about their relationship that makes me well up each time I hear it. I’m not sure I can say how or why, but that’s sort of the point of music, right? It can do those things that mere words cannot. It is a confluence of different aspects of existence that – every now and then – cuts through everything else. 

There’s plenty more to impress here, from the stark organ opening of ‘Lucky Jack (20-1)’ to the stuttering rhythm of ‘Finest Actor’ that sounds like it belongs on ‘Painted From Memory’, Bacharach’s sublime 1998 collaboration with Elvis Costello. The artwork, however, is less triumphant, but this is a minor gripe. 

While you might need to give it a few listens at different times and in different moods, Been Around’ is an album which slowly but surely connects. It doesn’t sound like a follow-up to that striking debut, but then why would it? 

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