Monday, May 25, 2020

Monday Mix: A (Re)Introduction to Kathleen Edwards

With Kathleen Edwards releasing her first album of new music in nearly eight years later this summer, I felt like now was as good a time as any to take a look back at some of her best work so far, so a new Monday Mix for your American Memorial Day is cookout appropriate even if you're socially distancing, and the irony that it highlights a Canadian artist on a national holiday is not lost on me.

Edwards has released four albums up to now, and this mix covers all four plus her new release, "Options Open." The mix is best listened to in order, at least the first time around...

Failer: Edwards's debut album is represented by five songs here. "Six O'Clock News" put her on the map, "One More Song the Radio Won't Like" kept her there, and the rest show some decent range. Don't sleep on "12 Bellevue," which remains a favorite of mine. After listening to this set, make sure to check out this highlight from her debut (and long-lost) EP, Building 55, which has some elements of both "Lone Wolf" and "Bellevue" while giving an early sense of her range.

Back to Me: The follow-up to Failer does not expand things out too too much with one exception in the title track, which is much more of a rock experience than the alt-country we came to expect. Even still, it's a heck of a song. "In State" is the spiritual, if not literal, sequel to "Six O'Clock News," and "Copied Keys" far too often makes things a little too dusty if you catch my drift...

Asking for Flowers: That this album wasn't a serious breakthrough record for her, I have no idea. The title track is gorgeous, lead single "The Cheapest Key" is a lot of fun, but the highlight in a near-perfect album is "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," which has so many great lines (I'm always back and forth between "You're the Great One/I'm Marty McSorley" and "Heavy rotation on the CBC/Whatever in hell that really means") and maybe the best, most Canadian music video you can imagine.

Voyageur: This album was the mainstream play, was famously produced in part by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, was less country and more indie/adult-alternative, and... it has a lot of great moments. As a huge fan, I gave this a lot of time and listens, but a lot of the charm and the wit that made Kathleen Edwards different than every twangy gal with a guitar was a little lost here. And a lot of the baggage that came with this album is why she quit music to begin with, so it's hard not to look back at this album and find a lot of offramps along the way. Still, "Change the Sheets" was a great song, "Empty Threat" probably the most Kathleen Edwards song on the record ("I'm moving to America/It's not an empty threat"), and "Mint," although unlike much else that she has offered up, is an underrated classic from her catalog.

The mix closes with her new song, "Options Open," and it deserves to be among this canon of songs after a week of repeated listens. I'm more excited than ever for the new album, Total Freedom, and hopefully this gets you in the mood for it as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment