Edwin McCain with Vonda Shepard and Brandy Johnson

Monday, March 10; Pageant

Mar 5, 2003 at 4:00 am
On his new album, The Austin Sessions, guitarist/vocalist Edwin McCain titles one of his new songs "I Want It All," but in fact he's not nearly so greedy. After a terrific run on Atlantic Records -- which included the albums Misguided Roses and Messenger and the hits "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask for More" -- McCain was happy to downsize a bit, releasing his latest effort on the fledgling Nashville label ATC. "It's a lot less of a clusterfuck," McCain says of his new situation. It's a lot less of me having to talk to 25 people before I can go scratch my balls. It's over. All that stuff is done with."

McCain's new creative autonomy has paid off on The Austin Sessions. It's a gorgeous collection of stripped-down songs, some of them new, some of them reworked favorites, plus a few well-chosen covers, including Dire Straits' "Romeo & Juliet." "I was glad I went on that ride," McCain says of his major-label days. "It was definitely a necessary part of promotion the rest of my life. I could never have paid for the amount of promotion and advertising that Atlantic Records did on my behalf. And now that I've survived the advertising phase of my life, I can kind of get on with the musical phase."

With The Austin Sessions, he's off to a great start.