Until recently I knew nothing of Ed Askew, but an intriguingly positive review of his album For The World in one of the music monthlies piqued my interest and so when, by chance, we received a digital copy via e-mail shortly afterwards I was more than curious to hear what it contained. Not only that, but the album features the wonderful Sharon Van Etten (who’s a huge fan apparently), Marc Ribot and Black Swans amongst others.
According to Allmusic, “next to nothing is known about outsider folksinger Ed Askew. Although Askew has been recording songs since the late ’60s, only one album has ever been released, 1969’s Ask the Unicorn, a psychedelic folk masterpiece.” However, further investigation reveals he has been consistently self-releasing music in underground circles and should you pay a visit to his Bandcamp page, you will discover a whole host of releases to sample there.
But what of For The World? It rambles for sure, seemingly content to follow its own path, but Askew’s quivering vocals, once absorbed, reveal thoughtful, emotional depths and a sureness of foot that means there are no missteps wherever the music goes. Daniel Johnston, Joanna Newsom, Randy Newman, even Phosphorescent are all touchpoints, but no more than that, because Askew, just like those brilliant songwriters, also possesses that uniqueness of vision and quirky world view that sets him apart from the norm, and the majority.
Whilst it is less heart-breaking than the aforementioned Ask The Unicorn, there are still washes of melancholia that sweep through some of the songs, but the overall sense once the album has played through is simply one of having been utterly charmed in the most beguiling and engaging of ways.
Listen to the title track, one of three songs to feature the lovely Sharon Van Etten.Follow @madmackerel
2 thoughts on “Mad Mackerel Recommends…Ed Askew”
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thanks, and just to say none of these posts mention that i toured with Bill Callahan after Imperfiction was released: for the record. and you have a fantastic site design here. ed*