First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2003, Volume 10, #5
Written by John Metzger
Six O’Clock News, the first track from Kathleen Edwards’ magnificent debut Failer, has been getting a lot of attention from the media lately, and rightfully so. The song is a terrific piece of work telling the tale of a man at the end of his rope while his lover tries to talk him back to reality. From Edwards’ vivid storytelling to her country-tinged vocal intonations, the track could easily pass as a new song from Lucinda Williams, and undoubtedly many have confused it as such. Indeed, much of Failer does sound like a lost collection of tracks from Williams, though Edwards also works in plenty of Neil Young’s crunchy rock (most notably on 12 Bellevue) and often recalls the songwriting style of fellow Canadian Sarah Harmer, particularly on the disappointment-filled Hockey Skates.
Regardless of the myriad shades of others — even John Lennon and Paul McCartney borrowed heavily from their predecessors — Edwards imbues her songs with a whole lot of herself. When she sings of a seedy affair with an older, married man on Westby, she fills the song with such emotion that one gets the feeling that at some point in her life, she’s been in her character’s shoes. Likewise, the failed relationship of National Steel is played out with all the world-weary sorrow she can muster amidst a backdrop of tension-filled fiddle and weepy pedal steel. For certain, the characters that inhabit Edwards’ songs all have their failings, but the manner in which she gives them life on her debut shows that she has succeeded in ways about which many others can only dream. ½
Failer is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box