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on December 14, 2003
Our friends to the north in Canada have been known to give us some of the best artists to grace the pop music world, from the Guess Who to Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell. Kathleen Edwards, in my opinion, can be added to that ambit with her debut album FAILER, an album that must rank as one of the best for the year 2003.
Edwards has been compared more than a few times to Lucinda Williams, which is heady praise indeed. But she is also her own woman, with an approach that combines alternative country and 1960s-style folk-rock along with stark modern lyrics, and a sardonic sense of humor. There's good social comment on "Six O'Clock News", and a big (but well-deserved) punch to American corporate radio on the ironically titled "One More Song The Radio Won't Like." There is also the use of one off-color word in the track "National Steel" which shows off a true acid side of this new Canadian gal.
Kathleen is someone well worth watching for in the future; hopefully, American radio stations, be they country or adult-alternative, will latch onto her.
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on November 25, 2003
This recording is an absolute joy and Kathleen Edwards is a wondrous discovery. This CD is remarkably consistent in its excellence. As others have noted, Ms. Edwards writes deeply moving and evocative lyrics with a maturity that belies her age, and she has a lovely voice.
Ignore the misleading comparisons to other musicians. I can just make out enough similarity in vocal styles to see why some hear a bit of Lucinda Williams, and there is one guitar solo that sounds like Crazy Horse, but that's about it. This is an artist with her own unique and delightful sound. On the 'Customers who bought this title also bought:' list that comes up on this page, I find her music much more similar to Tift Merritt than to Lucinda Williams, but I wouldn't say it sounds all that much like either.
The Lucinda comparisons verge on the ludicrous and miss the point. The themes of their songs and the way they use words are worlds apart, Edwards' voice is orders of magnitude more palatable and melodic, and the sound of her band is quite different from any that's ever backed Ms. Williams. It doesn't matter if Lucinda Williams fans prefer Lucinda - that's why they call them "Lucinda Williams fans"! Personally, I like Lucinda and I own all her CD's. But I never would have thought of comparing the two women until I read these reviews, and if I had to choose I'd trade all those Lucinda CD's for this one. The point is that you don't have to choose or compare. You can just enjoy sublime music.
The acoustic and emotional beauty of this music has kept Failer in my CD player for months, and the brilliant lyrical moments of truth in "Hockey Skates" and "Westby" are portents that Kathleen Edwards will continue to be a musical force to be reckoned with for years to come.
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on August 7, 2003
Who'd have thought that a newcomer would outdo Lucinda Williams? Yet that's just what Kathleen Edwards has done--this is the record Lucinda wishes she had released this year. Nothing against World Without Tears, but this is the CD you'll reach for when you're headed for your car, and you'll be singing along the whole ride.
But that makes this album sound petty, and it isn't. It's moody and deep and complex, and it clearly comes from the heart. Edwards' talent is taking what are seemingly specific situations and shaping them into stories that the listener can make his or her own. Six O'Clock News, the unbelievable opening track, is undeniably catchy, but it also invites the listener into the story of a love who can't quite keep it together for the sake of his girl. And if you've ever been in a tough relationship and thought about leaving, I defy you to remain emotionless through the closer, Sweet Little Duck. Listen with headphones for the telltale line at the start of the song...
Failer? Far from it. This is a top-five album of 2003 without a doubt.
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on July 5, 2003
It's as if Kathleen Edwards took the best elements of several of her contemporaries and made them her own. Her keening voice evokes Laura Cantrell, but she's a far better singer in terms of phrasing, body and personality. Her country-tinged arrangements nod to both The Wooden Stars and Blue Rodeo, and her witty, observant lyrics sometimes remind me of Sarah Harmer.
Edwards' gift is to make simplicity beautiful. I can't think of anybody else right now who can make a dead-simple, repetitive melody as "Six O'Clock News" work, and work so marvellously. "Hockey Skates" hangs its spare arrangements on a terrific yet basic guitar line, but played with relish. That vocal ad lib which opens "The Lone Wolf", the surprisingly gutsy electric guitar of "12 Bellevue" and the multitracked acoustic strums of "Westby" are all examples of the imaginative yet deceptively simple touches which make the songs great.
The great playing and arrangements on this record definitely help, making the most out of simple country-rock elements, and Edwards' singing is very engaging, often careless of pitch like Neil Young and early Sarah Harmer, but always expressive and fitting to the song.
From time to time, an artist is hyped simply because s/he is better than the rest. Kathleen Edwards is one such artist, and if the media hype helps people discover her music, all the better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 16, 2003
Shades of Beth Nielsen Chapman, Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch---although she is a Canadian her roots blend heartfelt country/folk/bluegrass into one neat package. This very young performer Kathleen Edwards debut album "Failer", has the rumblings of a star being born. Each cue has a penetrating style that cannot be denied. Just listen to the track "WESTBY", when she states I don't think your wife would like my friends---when have you heard lyrics that come from the essence of your soul. Take a careful listen to "NATIONAL STEEL", a haunting melody with lyrics to match, trading a daughter for [$$] for a National Steel leaves you thinking about what is being said. The final track "SWEET LITTLE DUCK", you set me on your shelf and I just sit here, tired of you making up your mind as the musicians drift off into a meditating cloud.
Edwards back up is nothing to sneeze at ~ Joel Anderson (drums/percussion), Jim Bryson (guitar), Petr Cancura (baritone, soprano sax), Dave Draves (organ), Fred Guignon (slide guitar), Maury Lafoy (piano), Kevin McCarragher (bass), Blair Phillips (alto sax), Keith Snider (banjo), Peter von Althen (percussion) and Tom Thompson (pedal steel)---each musician fills the bill with room to spare. Predict a bright future for this original performer/songwriter who will offer beautiful highways to travel ~ KATHLEEN EDWARDS is not FAILER!
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on April 28, 2003
A friend recently directed me to this disc. I picked it up the other day and gave it a listen last evening. All I can say is, "WOW". If this rating system was out of six stars I would give this disc seven. This is the best debut disc that I have come across in years. It is up there with 'Zep 1', 'The Court of the Crimson King' and Nick Drake's 'Five Leaves Left'. The sophistication and tightness/looseness of such a young band defies time and experience itself. The breadth and depth of the emotions expressed within the lyrics is astounding. The vocal are simply sublime. The diversity of intrumentation is also captivating. This disc is a must for those seeking great new sounds with an indepth experience of the human condition. 'Hockey Skates' will almost bring you to tears.
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on January 14, 2003
Kathleen Edwards is being compared to Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Neil Young, Whiskeytown, etc. In a sense, given that she's new on the scene, she deserves more credit than that. No, no, I'm not saying she's better. While I would agree that she shares a similar sensibility to these artists, there's a distinctive voice in her songwriting and delivery. She gets more credit, in my book, for not just copying folks out there who have gone before her. Precious few artists seem to be capable of that these days.
Although I'm always skeptical (with good reason) when the name dropping begins, Failer turns out to be a fantastic recording. I've got my fingers crossed, while I listen to Westby over and over again, that this is just the first of many wonderful discs from Kathleen.
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on October 11, 2003
I hesitated from buying this album at first due to Rolling Stone magazine's inflation of it--Let's just say that our tastes differ & it goes both ways. Finally, I broke down & bought the album & cannot remove it from my CD player. Not only does this album describe life as a northerner, but it was written with such honesty and rawness that you almost feel guilty for knowing so much about the characters she portrays. Much like Ryan Adams, Kathleen Edwards draws you in by releasing a few secrets. Soon, you're surrounded by extremely confessional images of "Wire cars and whiskey, bad debts, and dirty laundry." She's witty. The engineering was done well. Her voice is delicious. Musicianship is there. Buy the album.
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on May 8, 2003
Someone recommended this CD to me when I was looking for some new music. Unbelievable! Sometimes, an album comes from nowhere and hits you broadside and leaves you with indellable impressions. The recording quality of this album varies, but the songs are well written and from (someone's) heart, and the music creative and raw. I love this kind of stuff and this is a fine example of the kind of music those record labels should be putting out instead of that overhyped, overproduced waste-of-my-time. Just listen to the first line of song #10, Sweet Little Duck, with headphones and experience someone singing to you from somewhere deep. This CD has spent full-time in my car and on my headphone system. One of my favorite albums of 2003.
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on August 6, 2003
Kathleen Edwards' CD is consistently excellent with strong songwriting and musicianship. My favorite track is "The Lone Wolf" with its airy vocals, "The lone wolf kissed her mouth like so many before, Scarecrow closed her eyes and then she closed the door, And the rain fell down on the tin roof." "12 Bellvue" rocks hard while "National Steel" is a soft lament with fragile vocals that recall Lucinda Williams. There are no weak songs on "Failer." If she can maintain this quality in subsequent releases, Edwards is on her way to join classic Canadian artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in the Hall of Fame. This is one CD worth the hoopla! Enjoy!
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