Album Review of
Golden Wings

Written by Joe Ross
May 28, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
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Based in Austin, Tx., Eddie Collins is an accomplished singer and multi-instrumentalist. "Golden Wings" features 13 of Collins' originals along with his banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass playing. Other instrumentalists who help out include Danny Barnes (guitar), Michael Austin (clarinet), Mark Rubin (tuba), Mike Montgomery (fiddle), Dawn Biega (cello), Paul Sweeney (mandolin), and Sharon Starrett (pennywhistle). Harmony vocalists include Sarah Jarosz, Mary K Isaacs, Will Walden, Jeffrey Tveraas, Seela, and Doug Taylor.

The tunesmith's liner note for the first song, "Anyway You Can," admits "Yep, no banjo and it ain't bluegrass, but a fun tune nevertheless." Collins clearly intends this project as an enjoyable showcase for his eclectic songwriting that covers many bases. His preferred musical style incorporates elements from the genres of folk, country, and bluegrass to some extent. There's even some Tex-Mex and Cajun influence here! Unconstrained by self-imposed boundaries of form or content, Collins simply gives us thoughtful arrangements for his creations. For example, "Norman's March," an instrumental inspired by the picking of Norman Blake, has cello, whistle, guitar and banjo to recreate the Civil War era. Some of Collins' songs are more striking than others. The content of some (e.g. "Hey Little Suzie") could have called for a different kind of arrangement with hard-edged vocalizing, and his bluegrassy "All Roads Lead To You" comes off as a little cautious and methodical. Eddie's smooth, deliberate delivery works best on the midtempo'ed ballads like "Banjo Picker's Fantasy" or the folksy and uplifting "With A Little Bit Of Love." His song of young love, "Janey's Story," shows that Collins is an accomplished storyteller, but the song would have benefited from a bridge or recurring instrumental melodic riff. 

All songs on the 40-minute project include: Anyway You Can, Golden Wings, He Was Good, Until Someone Was You, Burning in the Flames of Love, Hey Little Suzie, Norman's March, Troublin' News, Banjo Picker's Fantasy, All Roads Lead to You, Janey's Story, Home on the Old Bayou, With a Little Bit of Love 

Teaching and performing throughout Central Texas, Eddie also was often seen on the syndicated "Texas Music Café" television show. Besides starting the 5-String Quarterly, he has written many articles and instructional materials for banjo and guitar. Collins offers frequent workshops and was featured in the May 2002 issue of Banjo Newsletter. His four other albums are either with his band, The High Stakes Rollers, or feature him as a soloist. Check out his website ( for song samples and lyrics from "Golden Wings," or for information on Eddie's instruction books and workshops. (Joe Ross)