Success through Failer
in many ways, ottawa remains a small town. as kathleen edwards well knows.
the singer-songwriter has bruised more than one local ego in song and story, and has taken heat for cutting close to the bone. "i cleared out of town so i could clear my head," edwards sings in 12 bellevue, one of 10 magnificent country-tinged pop songs from her full-length debut, failer. not too far out of town, mind you (she resides near wakefield), but the diplomat's daughter who can simultaneously refer to herself as a "potty mouth" and a "little girl" needed to distance herself from a suffocating scene and a relationship-gone-sour.
edwards was planning the next step for failer, an album that, due to technical difficulties, had already suffered more growing pains than edwards herself. recalling lucinda williams at her most poignant, the finished product is a rare gem whose strength lies in the very honesty that has worked for and against the 24-year-old artist.
edwards quietly unleashed failer in ottawa earlier this year, but the best appears yet to come for the album and the potty-mouthed little girl behind it, now that maplemusic has given edwards' confessional songs a new home. hence, a second local cd-release show, friday at barrymore's.
"i kind of feel like i'm cheating in ottawa, because it isn't really my cd release, it's my label release," edwards concedes. "but when i released the record in ottawa, i didn't really push it as much as i could have. i was already talking to maplemusic and i knew when my record would be coming out with them. there's still so much i can do with this record."
and she's doing it. this weekend, it's cd-release shows; next week, she heads to new orleans to begin a tour with american roots-music master richard buckner.
and even if she sings self-deprecating sentiments about "one more song the radio won't play," her album has already established itself as a favourite with cbc and community radio stations. commercial airplay will follow.
and for all her claims of having no expectations, edwards has never been averse to self-promotion. her 1999 ep, building 55, earned her attention for a notorious dig at starling's ian lefeuvre, who had produced edwards' first recordings.
'that was a good learning lesson," edwards says of the experience. "and i deserved every bit of trouble i got myself into. but the starling guys are good friends of mine now, so i guess that means they're over it. it was disrespectful to go and play that song for them in a club, in a roomful of their friends, before they went on stage. for sure, that wasn't the right thing to do. but having said that, i still wouldn't have changed the song."
she's still learning. edwards predicts the next year will be filled with touring.
"i think you compensate for not having a single on the radio by touring a lot," she says. "it's definitely a little bit of a harder approach and takes more time to build up a fan base that way, but in the end i have a feeling that it might be something that would be more sustainable."