Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards is only 24, but on her striking debut album, Failer (Zoe), she demonstrates an eye for detail that can only improve with age. In “Westby” the virginal narrator has a fling with an older married man, and the damage is laid bare in striking imagery (“I dance dirty for you ’cause it turns you on / And I’m a little bleeder with white pants on”). And in “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like,” an ambling folk rocker about a clueless A and R rep trying to manufacture a pop star, Edwards’s parched, raspy articulation imbues each line with clenched-teeth contempt. The singer’s husky, aching moan has earned her countless comparisons to Lucinda Williams, which is unfortunate; Edwards’s songs about failed relationships, bitter separations, and ugly life choices lack the simple authority of the older artist’s work. “Six O’Clock News,” about a pregnant woman watching her boyfriend go down in a police standoff, sounds more like a Hollywood film pitch than a true story. But time can teach a writer the difference between drama and melodrama, and in roots rock one needn’t reinvent the wheel, only carve her initials in it. Wednesday, June 4, 8:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jonathan Cliff.