Kathleen Edwards

Asking for Flowers

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Kathleen Edwards' 2005 album Back to Me was the sort of record that grows and reveals new secrets each time you gave it a listen, so it's tempting not to trust immediate impressions after three spins of her next set, 2008's Asking for Flowers. But if one has to leap to a relative snap judgment, Edwards' new record sounds just as strong as its fine predecessor, and shows that she is gaining strength and confidence as a songwriter, qualities she hardly lacked before. Produced by Jim Scott and featuring a handful of top-notch American studio players (Benmont Tench, Greg Leisz), Don Heffington) alongside members of Edwards' Canadian road band (Colin Cripps, Jim Bryson), Asking for Flowers shows a broader range of colors than her first two albums (both lyrically and musically) than her earlier work. The playful wit of "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory" ("You're cool and cred like Fogerty/I'm Elvis Presley in the Seventies") and "The Cheapest Key" ("Here comes my softer side/And there it goes!") is livelier than her previous work, but the gravity of "Alicia Ross" (based on a true story of a murdered teenager) and "Oh Canada" (a rant against social injustice in her homeland) cuts deep into the heart, and "Oil Man's War" is a tale of a draft-age man fleeing to Canada during the Vietnam War that's affecting and sadly relevant. The music is beautifully rendered and moves with the emotional peaks and valleys with surety and grace. And when Edwards sings about love, as she does often, it's with a naked honesty that's genuinely touching and reinforced by the rough but sweet tone of her voice. Back to Me was the work of a singer/songwriter well on her way to becoming a major artist; Asking for Flowers leaves no doubt that Kathleen Edwards has arrived and made an album that's funny, startling, poignant, and (once again) worthy of repeated play.

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