Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Asking For Flowers
Photo by Victor Tavares
When Kathleen Edwards first arrived on the scene in 2003, her debut Failer was like a breath of fresh air for the roots-rock scene, with an electric guitar turned up loud and lyrical edge that could be sharp and incisive one moment, vulnerable the next. It was a rightful success and made the Ottawa native one of the country’s rising stars.
The follow-up Back To Me offered more of the same and was arguably as good, material-wise, but to these ears somehow sounded less essential than its predecessor. Edwards’ strength has always been her straightforward songwriting and vivid storytelling and I think I was craving something a little more cryptic in my diet. For whatever reason, Back To Me didn’t last nearly as long in rotation.
Which brings us to her third record, the just-released Asking For Flowers which caught my attention from the get-go because, unlike the first two records, it didn’t open with an immediate rocker. Instead, “Buffalo” builds from a sombre piano figure into an impressive piece of orchestration centred around Edwards’ strong vocals and some terrific drum work. Certainly not what I expected and with that, I had to shelve my preconceptions about what Edwards had delivered and listened closer.
Of course, the second track and first single – “The Cheapest Key” – is exactly the sort of lyrical list-checking rocker I’d have expected to kick things off but it’s not at all unwelcome, unlike “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”, which is written along the same lines and tries too hard to be clever to curry favour. Much of Flowers falls right back into Edwards’ safety zone and maybe it’s unfair of me to expect her to be the sort of songwriter that she may simply not be – she’s pretty damn good at what she does do – but songs like “Buffalo” can’t help but make me feel like she could still be even more.
Edwards is currently on tour across the continent and will stop in at the Phoenix in Toronto on April 23. In addition to touring, the new album brings with it a flurry of interviews from the likes of Chart, Velocity Weekly, The Baltimore Sun, The Detroit Free Press, Express, The Chicago Sun-Times and The Boston Globe. She also recorded a short session for NPR.
Good news for those who missed out on My Morning Jacket’s recent Beautiful Noise taping (or those who were in attendance but just need more) – the boys will be back on June 16 for a show at the Kool Haus. Billboard has full tour dates and confirms the band’s appearance on Saturday Night Live on May 10, a month before Evil Urges is released. They also have a video interview with the band about making the new record.
Thick Specs brings word that Sloan will release their umpteenth (okay, ninth) studio album, Parallel Play, on June 10. At 13 songs in length, it should be a damn sight more digestible than Never Hear The End Of It. Patrick Pentland talks a (tiny) bit to Chart about the new record.
Also much anticipated in Can-rock circles is the sophomore effort from Wolf Parade – Kissing The Beehive is out June 17 and Billboard talks to Spencer Krug about what to expect while Pitchfork offers a first taste.
Spinner congratulates Elbow on the feat of being a British band who’ve managed to release four albums in North America despite not selling all that many of any of them. The Seldom Seen Kid will be neglected on North American store shelves starting next Tuesday.
The Detroit Free Press ponders why Radiohead have refused to play Motown in over a decade… the answer to which my shock and amaze you. Or not. It’s actually pretty much what you’d think. Via The Daily Swarm. And while fans may be able to turn their noses up at the cash-grab best-of comp coming out in June – with the express disapproval of the band and you know the LPs will be lousy pressings – the companion DVD, with its nine unreleased clips, may prove more difficult to resist.
The AV Club lists off “20 respectable rock and rap acts that peaked with debut albums”.