Kathleen Edwards blossoms
Kathleen Edwards didn't intend for her latest album, Asking for Flowers, to be so deeply personal and overtly political.
It just kind of ended up that way, says the outspoken alt-country-folk-rock singer-songwriter.
"I'd like to think now that I'm getting older that I am starting to be able to go places that I resisted for a long time, maybe out of protecting myself from being seen or feeling certain things," said the Ottawa-born, Hamilton-based Edwards, 29.
"I'm just sort of acknowledging that there are hard, difficult emotional experiences you have that make you who you are for the better. And it's hard to open Pandora's Box, but it's very rewarding."
Edwards wound up writing about the death of her grandmother (Scared at Night), her overwhelming love for husband-guitarist-producer Colin Cripps (Sure as . . .), the Ontario murders of Jane Creba and Alica Ross (Oh Canada and Alicia Ross), the threat of a U.S. draft during President George W. Bush's second term (Oil Man's War) as well as biased media coverage and government indifference, among other things.
The material on Asking for Flowers, which follows up 2005's Back to Me and her well-received 2003 debut, Failer, didn't come easily.
Burnt out by the spring of 2006, Edwards took some much deserved time off to take piano lessons and practise her violin playing. She even ended up working at the nearby Tawse Winery in Beamsville, via a carpenter friend who was working on the building.
"I went in a couple of times for wine tastings and one of the times I walked out with a job," she said. "So I went and worked in the basement in the spring and summer of 2007, between trips to California, and bottled and labelled wine. I've been a bit of a wine fan and I just had this real interest in just kind of being around there. I love it. It's very agricultural and it's this amazing environment to be around. And the employee discount was really good."
The first song on the new album, Buffalo, was the first song Edwards wrote after she and Cripps ran into a thunder and snowstorm on the way to pick up friends at an airport.
"I think I had three months to write my second record. And I still to this day feel really good about my second record, but I didn't have much time to invest in playing around with things," said Edwards. "We were on not only just a tight schedule, but also I think so much had happened to me in such a short period of time I was nervous about putting myself out there too much and there's always this sophomore slump question you get asked all the time. And even though I don't think that happened to me, I think you inevitably try to play it safe for the sake of not falling flat on your face. And this time around, I kind of didn't care so much if I fell flat on my face."
She hooked up for what turned into a dream recording session with co-producer Jim Scott (Back to Me's mixer) in his Santa Clarita, Calif., studios where he gathered such respected musicians as Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers to play with her.
"I felt out of my element a little bit," she said. "And I didn't know these (players) going in and I didn't know if my songs were any good because I hadn't played them for anyone and I just kind of had to go with the moment and just trust that things were going to be OK."
McSorley lyric a Great One
Her trademark sense of humour remains firmly intact on the song I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory.
On the song, Edwards lists a series of wide-ranging opposites and includes the line: "You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley," referencing former Edmonton Oilers superstar Wayne Gretzky and his on-ice protector.
"I still can't believe that I wrote Marty McSorley into a song lyric," said Edwards, a big fan of hockey culture. "It just fell out of my mouth. I was trying to think, 'OK, what are good parallels?' Fogerty, Elvis, cars, hockey, wine, things that I like, so that's why those are the things I picked. It just came out.
"I think I'd written, 'You're a Ford Tempo, I'm a Maserati, (pauses then starts singing), You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley.' And then I was like, 'That's awesome!' I don't know where it came from. I don't even know how I know who Marty McSorley is, to be honest.
"And I really, really hope, I'm making a video for that song, and my whole thing is, 'Marty McSorley has to be in the music video. I don't care what it takes, we have to find Marty McSorley and see if he'll be in my music video. I heard he's this really big guy and I was like, Yay! He can teach me how to play defence or something.' Like that could be the video, but I'm sure no one will like that idea."