The Edge of Daybreak
Eyes Of Love
If you weren’t informed of it, one would not know that the sweet R&B sounds that flow from the grooves of Eyes Of Love, the sole album by The Edge of Daybreak, were produced from behind prison walls. It’s certainly one of Numero Group’s worthiest finds—a self-pressed record by a band of men locked inside Powhatan Correctional Center, one of the toughest prisons in the country. The five members of the band were allowed to record a session one afternoon, resulting in a powerful, better-than-you’d-think sounding album, which was then sold at one small record store owned by a friend and financier of the album. Eyes Of Love, already a super-limited pressing, was made even rarer when most of the copies were destroyed in a flood, and copies of the original now sell for large sums of money.
It’s understandable, too, why the album trades for so much—it is a rare jewel of a record. The band was formed from the genesis of Cosmic Conception, which also formed in the prison and becoming a popular group within its walls, notable for their renditions of current R&B and Funk hits. The Edge of Daybreak, however, was intended to be a band focused on original compositions. Drummer Jamal Jahal Nubi took the role of vocalist, and he sings with the passion and intensity of a man who knows the power of love and freedom simply because he hasn’t had it in years.
It’s not surprising, then, that the album’s main theme is on forgiveness, love, and tenderness. Interestingly, though recorded by inmates, Eyes Of Love isn’t really a prison record; one can infer what they wish in the lyrics, but to this listener it’s the incarceration separation that informs these numbers—from the appreciation of a devoted partner through bad times found in “Our Love,” the power of love in the face of adversity in “Eyes Of Love,” or the simple wanting to get down and make love slow-jam groove of “Let Us” and the raucous “Bring Me You.” Rough and raw, the imperfections give it a wabi-sabi that adds to the overall appeal to the record.
The title track, though, is perhaps the most relevant to the band’s status as prisoners. The name stems from the fact that the members of the band were all on notice of their individual release dates; “Edge of Daybreak” is a celebratory number that pays tribute to the joy and excitement these men were looking forward to on release day. They promise to be moving and grooving to the happy sound of freedom, and one definitely feels their excitement.
It was that edge of daybreak, however, that would bring this promising band to its end. Members were transferred to different facilities, and sadly they did not attempt to continue the band outside of prison doors. Eyes of Love has received a lot of positive press, and rightly so; this album proves that art can be produced in even the direst of locations. One wonders what might have been had this obviously talented group of men’s circumstances been different.