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Richard Edwards felt almost human when he returned to Los Angeles to record songs for what became Verdugo, out June 1, 2018. It’s the follow-up to the Indiana singer’s 2017 album Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset, a beautiful, personal release that was deeply unpleasant to make. Not only was he afflicted at the time by an intestinal ailment that often left him unable to stand, let alone sing, his marriage fell apart midway through making the album.
If Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset ended up being a record about letting go, Verdugo is the album where Edwards pulls himself up after falling down. “The making of it was kind of my recovery from all the stuff,” says Edwards, who worked again with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck) in L.A. “I went back and wasn’t as sick, so making the second one, and finishing it, was a much, much more joyous event.”
Verdugo features 10 new songs that showcase Edwards’ considerable and longstanding talent as a writer, and also a new way of singing: Edwards’ chronic pain meant finding a vocal approach that didn’t make him feel like throwing up. “I sing in a half-falsetto high range that came out of not being able to belt stuff out for a year,” Edwards says.
His new vocal style deepens the air of melancholy on the atmospheric “Strange,” takes on a wistful cast on “Beekeeper” over subtle drums and a distinctive guitar part, and is lifted aloft on a soaring blend of guitars, drums and backing vocals on “Minefield.” “They kind of disappear in this weird sky sonically now, because of this range,” he says. “They don’t feel rooted anymore, they fly all over, and that falsetto — if you’re looking at it as a picture, it goes higher up in the room than it used to.”