Asking For Flowers
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.
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