Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Review: Edmund & Leo (Maxi Dunn)

#493: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! It really is a pleasure to support talented artistes who emanate from the musical heartlands of the Midlands and Liverpool out there in the ELOBF universe. And I have to say also that I have been blessed to discover the gifted singer/songstress Maxi Dunn over the last eighteen months or so too. Maxine is just about to release her third album entitled "Edmund & Leo" - out on Monday 25th February - and I've been in happy receipt of what is a beautiful gatefold CD package this week for the purposes of this review.
In many ways, "Edmund & Leo" continues in the themes and style of its predecessors "Welcome To Soonville" and "The Neglected Gambit" yet it also represents an immense musical advancement. The themes of angst and lost love are still there but this album has more warmth and hope sprinkled throughout. Indeed, if all three releases were a trilogy, then this record would be a more than fitting climax. "Edmund & Leo" also sees the return of talented producer Peter Hackett (alias Cult of Wedge) in this superb sonic collaboration. The musical marriage of Maxi and Pete continues to blossom and impress, especially with the addition of the adept and rhythmic percussion of Damon Roots to the partnership.

"Edmund & Leo" comprises twelve wonderful songs penned by the pensive Maxi from the opening title track, reminiscent of "Welcome To Soonville" itself, through to the excellent closing crescendo of "Meteor Shower". The soaring vocals of Maxi are a perfect match to the programming, guitar work and ELO influenced production values of Pete Hackett with excellent effect. The four pre-release singles "Dragonfly""Watching The Stars""Change The Record" and "I'm Only Here Because Of You" underpin the recording but tracks such as the funky "Buffoon Man" and "Everything" absolutely shine. Indeed, there really are no weak tracks here. At the time of writing, I can only settle on two co-faves: "Dragonfly" - a superb song that should grace any radio play list - and "I'm Only Here Because Of You" - a lovely, upbeat, feel good heartfelt romp.

Yours Truly KJS managed to catch up with Maxi for ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) earlier this week and I asked her for a brief commentary on each song thus:

"Edmund & Leo": The album is named after my primary and high schools (St. Edmund Arrowsmith RC Comprehensive and St. Leo's Primary). We recorded this last, the grand finale track, although it kicks the album off. I was unsure of which direction to take it, but I am very happy with the end result!
"Change The Record": This is definitely one of the big pop songs on the album. It had to have lots of guitars and a great guitar solo.
"Dragonfly": Originally inspired by my daughter running away from a dragonfly one day and me shouting to her: "Don't be scared of the dragonfly!". A few days later a song emerged, taking into account how I was feeling at the time. Life is short and it doesn't always turn out how we had hoped. We shouldn't cling onto the past as current happiness is passing us by meanwhile. I was definitely coming around to the idea that I could be happy again one day and all those "choices" may not be there any more. They have most definitely gone for "some people".
"Bite Your Tongue": We all have to do this at times, I know. The Internet and social pages can turn us mad sometimes. There is always going to be something from your past creeping back now and again. I learned to bite my tongue a lot and I would chant to myself "it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter" ... "I carry on regardless, it's the British way to be". Also, Damon performs some beautiful percussion on this!
"Take It Or Leave It": This maybe a little country [some of my Dad's influences coming out in me here] and it reminds me a bit of the late Kirsty McColl. Another great guitar solo from Pete. This was a song I wrote about myself, from the outside and looking in at what I had become. Again, time for change song.
"Buffoon Man": I wrote this while we were working on The Neglected Gambit. I remember I was off work, sick, when I wrote it. I was going to include it as a hidden track but changed my mind last minute. It isn't a nice song and thought it was a bit harsh - but true. I am at a stage now where it doesn't matter and I really don't care. I wanted to give it a bit of a cheesy feel, but it ended up with a great groove.
"I'm Only Here Because of You": This was the last song written for the album and the last song I wrote before I moved house back in May. I am definitely saying here "time to change this lifestyle and to start enjoying life again". It is quite a sweet song though, imagining care and comfort from a lost love in the shape of a blackbird that used to sing outside my window, during the spring.
"Everything": I actually whistle on this at the start ha ha! I was recording vocals one day and as I was listening through I found myself whistling this melody. I thought "Oooh, that's quite nice!". So I recorded it up and sent it to Pete. It then became part of the intro of the song. The perils of the hurt of seeing lost loves on the Internet - trying to be nasty but knowing you miss them deep down.
"Cover Me": Another song I wrote during the recording of The Neglected Gambit. This I gave away with pre-orders. For Edmund & Leo, I recorded the vocals again and had it remixed. I wrote this after finding out some really bad news during the Summer of 2011. It shook me up and upset me for a while. There is someone in this world who definitely left a void in my life. It took a long time to get over it/him.
"Watching The Stars": I was inspired to write this after watching the Nicholas Cage film "Knowing". Even if people leave your life, one day your stars may align again, be it here or in a different lifetime. Also, why worry, the sun will burn us all anyway, one day. Ha! Positive ending there!
"Tuxedo Cat": I always say this song may put men off wearing tuxedo suits! Ha! It is based around a photograph. One little photograph. It isn't a nice song.
"Meteor Shower": I needed to get away from writing songs about lost love and "Miss you, love you" etc. I was looking for a dramatic ending to the album. There was a lot in the news about meteor showers at the time and I was inspired to write something around that. Pete and Damon totally rock their socks off on this track - they are total animals! :-) This would be amazing live and look forward to performing it one day.

"Edmund & Leo" will be released in CD & digital format on Monday 25th February and is available to order from the official Maxi Dunn website thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "Edmund & Leo" by Maxi Dunn to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe Move'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 06-Feb-2013


  1. " Edmund & Leo " is possibly Maxi's best album to date......A well produced album full of great magical, moving songs and great musicians.
    Maxi has a wonderful voice and If you like catchy strongly emotional and heartfelt written lyrics then you won't be disappointed with this album...A absolute delight to listen to.
    This is simply a must buy.

  2. Hi, it's Nik (Sylvian Sakamoto)
    Good work Maxine. Love it.
    ELO and Beatles? Wow...both are my all time favourite besides Sylvian/Sakamoto :-)