There is a connection to the land that authentic music carries which is deeply rooted in the experience of the individual artist. For Canadian singer-songwriter, Mike Edel, raised in the Pacific Northwest, it’s the visions of the interplay of nature’s darkness and light that lead to the hope of a breakthrough into the goodness of life. It is this experience that runs through the interior of the soul, which weaves through his songs. He may at times sing of heartbreak, fear or sadness, but soon enough, the light breaks through in a lyric tied to a natural image and hope is renewed and endures. It’s a constant theme on his second solo album, India, Seattle. There is a feeling of a compassionate and encompassing experience in his melodic and lyrical interactions with the environment around him that reveals the heart of his life and stories.
India, Seattle is a collection of lyric-driven folk music with pop strains, born from a unique singer-songwriter who embraces the multi-prism complexities of the life reflected around him. Sometimes moody, sometimes hopeful, sometimes filled with faith in our better nature, the songs journey through the inner and outer landscape of earth & soul and quietly emerge with the light of love experienced through the artist's lens.
When he sings of a rare love on “Julia,” it is like an up-close portrait of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” Rather than seeing the subject from an idealized, mystical distance, as Cohen does in his classic song, Edel's lady is very near and all together human. He isn’t going here for Cohen’s spiritual platonic poem, but, rather he paints a word-picture of a lover who is human, who touches flesh; she is vulnerable & frail. He sees in the warmth of these ‘two weeks in Calgary,’ in the snow, which he returns to in the songs repeating end-line.
There is a similar intimacy to the title song, "India, Seattle,"from the vantage point of the lover’s memory in a place in the mountains that as is as secret as the inner chambers of the soul and as close as a heartbeat; yet, in the end, it is a seemingly faraway memory, as he sings of 'secret names.' Perhaps it is a memory that is as far and as remote as India is from Seattle.
One of the best songs on this consistent collection of poetic reflections is “Blue Above the Green,” which celebrates as it tells the story of a walk ‘in July, hiking in the dark.’ Like the entire album, it’s a trail through the darkness into the ‘blue above the green.’ There is a child-like sense of discovery, uncovering the natural world, even in darkness.
What Edel manages to create on this album is a full portrait, an artist’s vision, if you will, which allows for the tension that exists between our daily experience of light and dark. His particular world view always considers both the beauty and mystery of the world around him and the hearts who touch and move him to write these magical songs. India, Seattle manages to capture and hold this tension in lyrical poetry driven by folk-pop soundscapes. It’s a journey well worth taking.