Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
"Choosing my words carefully has never been my strength," Kathleen Edwards sings on her new album, as if we weren't aware of her remarkable storytelling gifts.
She might fool some people, but the folks who've heard 2003's "Failer" and 2005's "Back To Me" know she's full of it. Edwards is as good as any of our young songwriters. She's not just "careful" in her choice of words, she's devastating.
In one of her smartly drawn lyrics, the Canadian can convey the disappointment and quiet fury of a woman caged by a life she despises, but doesn't fight. "Asking for flowers is like asking you to be nice," she shrugs sadly on the serene title track. "Don't tell me you're too tired, 10 years I've been working nights."
Of course, it's Edwards' delivery that sells the drama. She can't claim a conventionally pretty voice - although it's soft and lovely in the quietest moments. Edwards has this weird sort of Canadian drawl, and she ends up braying the notes she holds onto, like she's the sweetest, saddest donkey in the world. "Oh Canadaaaaaaah, I stand on guard for a lahhhhhhht," she warbles on "Oh Canada," as if she hits a ceiling every time she's about to let her voice soar. Edwards' voice could be prettier, but if it was, these songs about war and kidnapping and disaster would sound a lot less interesting.
The record's not all doom and gloom, though. 'The Cheapest Key" - the obvious single - breezes along on a chugging country guitar and Edwards' sublime kiss-offs. "You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorely," she laughs on the twangy ballad "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," proving that she can be funny and that she's clearly Canadian.
"Asking For Flowers" marks three fully wonderful albums for the 29-year-old Edwards. Up in Canada, they might call that a hat trick.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5