thu 18/07/2024

CD: Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

CD: Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

Justin Vernon's latest squeeze surprises with an album of top-notch AOR

Kathleen Edwards: best listened to on the road

Although a relatively new name around these parts, Kathleen Edwards has been alt-country’s nearly girl for almost a decade in her native Canada (as well as the doyenne of many campus radio stations across the States). But praise goes much further. Dylan likes her almost as much as Sheryl Crow, the Stones have had her on tour and in fact almost everyone who listens to her enjoys the way she injects warmth and lightness into musical styles normally bowing under the weight of earnestness.

Voyageur, her fourth LP, has an even easier manner than before. It’s good, but not quite as existing fans might expect.

Back in 2003 Edwards wrote a tune called “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like”. This, however, is full of songs the radio certainly would like. Not over here. But those FM stations in the States that take you out of the big cities into the big country before giving way to Jesus channels. Commentators on the other side of the pond have made a certain amount of the record’s co-production by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon (with whom Edwards is now romantically linked). However, there’s no great change of style here, more an evolution from alt-country to pop-Americana, with yards of heartache and yearning.

This is Edwards’ first album since the break-up of her marriage and is split between regret and the optimism of her new relationship. From the up-tempo AOR of opener “Empty Threat” to the misty-eyed seven-minute closing duet with Norah Jones, there’s hardly a moment that doesn’t capture a sense of wide North American plains and the lives of those who zig-zag across them. Vernon himself lends vocals to “A Soft Place to Land” and “House Full of Empty Rooms”, but it is with the crunching guitars of “Mint” that the album reaches its zenith, particularly when Edwards sings “God doesn’t know you like I do.” Best listened to on the open road, this is a record that improves every time you put it on.

Kathleen Edwards performs "Back to Me":


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