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Long time touring friends with Hootie and the Blowfish, the Edwin McCain band signed with same label, Atlantic Records. In 1994, he recorded his first major-label album, Honor Among Thieves under the Lava Records imprint (Matchbox Twenty, Kid Rock and Jewel). The record was then released in 1995. His second album, Misguided Roses, spawned “I’ll Be”, a major hit single in 1998. This song is also featured on the charitable album, Live in the X Lounge, along with a live version of “Solitude”. It was also featured and included in the soundtrack of the 2004 teen flick, A Cinderella Story.
Summer of 1999 marked the arrival of McCain’s third album, Messenger, which included a second Top 40 hit, the Diane Warren-penned “I Could Not Ask For More.” Produced by Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul) and Noel Golden, Messenger was recorded at Tree Sound Studios and Southern Tracks in Atlanta as well as Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles. “I Could Not Ask For More” was also featured on the soundtrack for the 1999 film Message in a Bottle.
Having fulfilled his four-album contract, McCain split from Lava/Atlantic at the end of 2001. In early 2003 he released a collection of acoustic versions of songs both old and new called The Austin Sessions via ATC Records, a Nashville-based independent record label (at which McCain was the first artist signed following its creation in 2001.) Sessions, recorded in roughly 20 days, punctuated McCain’s major-label departure with an intentionally stripped-down sound, and offered some fan favorites from his early days of touring, including Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet”. The album, coupled with McCain’s first DVD, Mile Marker: Songs and Stories from the Acoustic Highway (2002) – which consisted of interviews, live performances and other material – served as a thank-you to long-time followers. In a May 2003 interview with Billboard, McCain noted, “The whole package is sort of saying, ‘I’m back doing what I started doing.'” Around the same time, the ever-busy musician also hosted “Inside Music With Edwin McCain”, a syndicated show on the Sirius radio network.