Kathleen Edwards | 05.06.08

kathleen-edwards.jpgThis is may be what sets her apart from her peers-she’s always looking for that extra avenue of unearthed energy, and always confidently taking her time to find it. 





Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, St. Louis

"And it’s like you said, I would have turned up dead in the car," Kathleen Edwards sang from the chorus of "Mercury," a solemn acoustic track off her first record, Failer. It was a quiet and successful approach to opening her show, perhaps to serve as a calm before the violent storm that was about to hit the Duck Room, mostly in the form of tracks off her newest album, Asking for Flowers, and her previous one, Back to Me. 

Edwards has a sophisticated way of presenting her music without showing a comfort zone to her fans.  Just when you think she’s tipping her hand, looking cool and collected during a mid-tempo number like "Asking for Flowers" or "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," out come the boxing gloves with a punch to guts with songs like "12 Bellevue" or the fierce "Copied Keys," one of her best tunes. And this is may be what sets her apart from her peers-she’s always looking for that extra avenue of unearthed energy, and always confidently taking her time to find it. The musician from Ottawa seems to cherish the power of the unexpected, and it’s a glorious thing to witness.

This proved true on the emotional highpoint of the evening, her jaw-dropping solo electric performance of "Alicia Ross," a song about a girl from Toronto who was killed by her next-door neighbor. Gentle in her delivery, Edwards smartly paced the song as if her own life depended on pleasing a judge that only rewarded points for poise and elegance. As the room filled with the space that Edwards gave each soaring note, the lyrics of the song stood out like a thousand missing-person flyers: describing the suffocating dying moments as wishes for Ross to know her "dad’s middle name," "her ring size," and her mother’s "favorite song." "Was your darkest day as dark as this one?" Edwards asked with her eyes closed, as she swayed with her guitar on the darkly-lit stage.            

The unreleased "I Can’t Give You Up" followed, featuring Edwards dusting off her violin, an untapped talent that is still being exploredby the singer-songwriter.  It provided the final setting for the last portion of the evening, which was a set of electric glory that belonged to Edwards’ husband and lead guitarist, Colin Cripps.           

Cripps isn’t showy on guitar, and he’s not even well known, but he’s got something special that fits Edwards’ music, especially in a live setting. During the explosion that was "Oh Canada," Cripps and Edwards traded blows with their powerful instruments, making sense of the Crazy Horse comparisons that have been placed upon the scorching track off Asking for Flowers. It’s my opinion that Cripps won the battle, but I’m not sure I could look Edwards in the eye and admit it, and that’s only because she’s an accomplished guitarist herself.

The encores began with Edwards performing the solo acoustic "Scared at Night," and ended with her band rocking out the crowd-pleasing "Back to Me."

"I’ve got lights you’ve never seen, I’ve got moves I’ve never used," Edwards sang as she closed out the show.  And if that’s true-that’s she’s got more elaborate tricks up her sleeve, perhaps waiting for them to thaw from the next Canadian winter-she won’t have to ask us to come back to her. We’ll be waiting, as patiently as ever. | Jason Gonulsen

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