Through a series of events that some might even consider fate, Edens Edge is set to release their self-titled debut album on June 12. The trio, made up of Hannah Blaylock (lead vocals), Cherrill Green (harmony vocals, mandolin, banjo) and Dean Berner (harmony vocals, guitar, dobro) formed while attending Arkansas Tech and it’s been one serendipitous step after another since: a songwriting contest entry catching the ear of a Music Row writer; an invitation to play a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame event; an audience member that night who just happened to be a record exec. It’s been a wild ride so far for Edens Edge, but on their debut, the group displays an irrefutable connection to their hometown roots, tight musicianship and an electric chemistry.
Produced by Mark Bright and Dan Huff, the 10-song collection features plenty of textured three-part harmony and folk instrumentation a la mandolin and dobro, along with its decidedly modern sound. The album is built on an acoustic foundation and songs like the current single “Too Good To Be True” play with complex layers and swirling melodies. You walked in shinin’ brighter than a headlight / Turnin’ every head like a diamond in a coal mine, Hannah sings with a hint of Carrie Underwood’s control as the chord progression descends. “Skinny Dippin’” (co-written by Dean), is a sexy old-school number that blends a traditional country stomp with modern pop stylings and a fluid mandolin solo.
Members of Edens Edge co-wrote five of the album’s songs, including the standout party track “Who Am I Drinking Tonight” (co-written by Hannah). The song, which blends a little boogie-woogie with twin guitars and name checks Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Hank Jr. and Gretchen Wilson as descriptions for various alcohols, is fun and lighthearted while never overstaying its welcome. The songs here are tight, with opening track “Amen” serving as the first example. The song, co-written by Hannah, is a steady thumper that displays her ability to casually slip in some not-so-subtle attitude when referencing the girl that did the object of her affection wrong. The whole town, yeah, we whooped and hollered, she sings of her arch rival’s leaving. Cherrill and Dean provide delicate harmonies while the song also touches on small town life and the connections people have there.
The emotional climax of the album is “Cherry Pie,” a flowing, contemporary bluegrass tune that swells with love as it recalls the third grade teachers, brothers, grandparents and others who provide a lasting influence. A soaring coda closes the song as Dean and Cherrill trade off melodic dobro and mandolin solos. Vocally, the trio is at its best on the Southern Gospel “Christ Alone,” an a cappella gem with shimmering harmonies. It’s a tantalizing reminder of vocal power that features stirring drops as Hannah’s lead falls into Cherrill’s and Dean’s voices.
Along with the standard 10-song set, a Cracker Barrel Exclusive is also being released featuring three strictly acoustic bonus tracks. The group is locked in here, with “Little Bird” showcasing exquisite harmonies and instrumental themes that tenderly reflect the central melodies. On their debut release, Edens Edge offers a reflection of who they are with a set that effortlessly blurs the lines between traditional and modern.
Key Tracks – “Too Good To Be True,” “Who Am I Drinking Tonight,” “Christ Alone,” “Swingin’ Door”