Edwyn Collins – Badbea review

Secret Meeting score: 75

by Phil Scarisbrick

Location has always had a huge impact on artists. From Bowie’s ‘Berlin trilogy’ to the Rolling Stones’ French decampment for Exile On Main St, many of the best albums in history have been informed by the setting they were created in. In 2014, Edwyn Collins swapped his long time London home for his Grandfather’s old dwelling in the Scottish Highlands. After building a new studio, he set about revisiting lyrics that date from before his 2005 life-changing stroke. The resulting record, Badbea, is a genre-bending collection of tracks that showcase one of popular music’s most underrated songwriters.

Lead single, Outside‘s melodic punkisms skips along like the MC5 covering The Monkees, while In The Morning’s call and answer hook recalls his seminal Gorgeous George record. I Guess We Were Young sees Collins in reflective mood as he recalls his younger days and I’m OK Jack’ s gospel electronica is utterly joyous. The album’s closer and title track is an achingly beautiful ballad about the Highlands village for which it is named; a place that was built – and then abandoned – by crofters. The double meaning of the main hook – ‘Badbea, a ruined monument to life and death/Badbea, lean towards wind, a fight for breath’  – is overt and adds a poignant ending to the beautifully crafted record.

Though he often flies under the radar, Collins has a body of work that many an artist can be envious of, and Badbea only enhances that further. The starkly-captivating scene of his new Highlands home was seemingly the perfect location to create an equally captivating record.

Want to keep up to date with all our latest pieces? Follow us on social media…