Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Asking For Flowers

Photo by Victor Tavares

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.

Edwards is currently on tour across the continent and will stop in at the Phoenix in Toronto on April 23. In addition to touring, the new album brings with it a flurry of interviews from the likes of Chart, Velocity Weekly, The Baltimore Sun, The Detroit Free Press, Express, The Chicago Sun-Times and The Boston Globe. She also recorded a short session for NPR.

Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
MySpace: Kathleen Edwards

Good news for those who missed out on My Morning Jacket’s recent Beautiful Noise taping (or those who were in attendance but just need more) – the boys will be back on June 16 for a show at the Kool Haus. Billboard has full tour dates and confirms the band’s appearance on Saturday Night Live on May 10, a month before Evil Urges is released. They also have a video interview with the band about making the new record.

The Roanoke Times talks to Steve Earle about his New York digs.

Tift Merritt discusses her Gallic sojourns with SF Weekly, The Province and Country Standard Time.

Thick Specs brings word that Sloan will release their umpteenth (okay, ninth) studio album, Parallel Play, on June 10. At 13 songs in length, it should be a damn sight more digestible than Never Hear The End Of It. Patrick Pentland talks a (tiny) bit to Chart about the new record.

Also much anticipated in Can-rock circles is the sophomore effort from Wolf ParadeKissing The Beehive is out June 17 and Billboard talks to Spencer Krug about what to expect while Pitchfork offers a first taste.

MP3: Wolf Parade – “Call It A Ritual”

Carl Newman of The New Pornographers talks to Express and tells Billboard that it may be time for him to put the Pornography in the closet for a bit and put on his solo-rockin’ AC(-DC) hat back on.

Scoop catches a few minutes with Will Sheff of Okkervil River.

Spinner congratulates Elbow on the feat of being a British band who’ve managed to release four albums in North America despite not selling all that many of any of them. The Seldom Seen Kid will be neglected on North American store shelves starting next Tuesday.

The Detroit Free Press ponders why Radiohead have refused to play Motown in over a decade… the answer to which my shock and amaze you. Or not. It’s actually pretty much what you’d think. Via The Daily Swarm. And while fans may be able to turn their noses up at the cash-grab best-of comp coming out in June – with the express disapproval of the band and you know the LPs will be lousy pressings – the companion DVD, with its nine unreleased clips, may prove more difficult to resist.

The AV Club lists off “20 respectable rock and rap acts that peaked with debut albums”.

By : Frank Yang at 8:26 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Rich says:

    Frank, the song Asking For Flowers is very good and Sure as Shit is excellent, let it grow on you. I really like the new album and like to think about Kathleen and another Canadian Alice Munro together….

  2. Security Guard says:

    Big year already! New albums from both Edwards and Hayden!!!

  3. Wade Vroom says:

    Yes, i agree, Sure As Shit is a fantastic track. Kathleens’ lyrics really set her apart from the other canadian female singer songwriters out there right now. Her lyrics can really cut through your heart. Failer, and now Asking For Flowers leave me feeling heartbroken every time.

  4. mike says:

    Sorry dude,
    Never Hear The End Of It, although I once thought I’d cringe to say it, has become the "unlikeliest" 3rd best album Sloan has ever made (only Twice Removed and One Chord To Another top it, and Navy Blues…’bottoms’ it). You can’t deny that for all of the songs on it that are weak fillers/throwaways, they are severly outnumbered by damn good ones. They’ve given me back my love for them after a half decade of hit and miss, and I can’t wait to see what they have to offer in June.