Edwin McCain performs December 6 at Club Indigo as part of the Dallas Music Festival.
Edwin McCain isn't one of those musicians anyone really thinks about. He doesn't have any buzz--never really did, even when VH1 was spinning the video for his single "Solitude" and hometown homies Hootie and the Blowfish were all the rage and pumping him hard. But if some bands are, say, the musical equivalent of PanAsian fusion cuisine, McCain has made a fine and busy career being comfort food. The list of potential sonic references are legion--John Cougar Mellencamp, Dire Straits and Counting Crows are just a few--and it's the rootsy beauty he teases from familiar templates that makes his music satisfying. Earlier in his career, McCain had a somewhat unhappy habit of trying to force his intuitively jazz-inflected folk-pop sound into rock territory; with The Austin Sessions, however, he's finally settled into the softer side of his sound. The pop of "Little Girls" crackles all the more because its vibe is so laid-back; likewise, the ease of McCain's delivery of gospel-tinged tracks such as "Let It Slide" allows his gift for melody to really take wing. Sure, on the albums all this can come off a little lite-rock, but the live show is a different story. McCain tours constantly, and he's always been most at home on the stage. It's there that his homespun songs reveal not only their subtlety but also, at times, their haunting intimacy. Inasmuch as the current gigs are still somewhat in support of Milemarker, as well as The Austin Sessions, longtime fans can be assured that plenty of material from the back catalog will be on the set list.