Posted by: Jeff | February 22, 2012

Album Review: Kathleen Edwards – “Voyageur”

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur [Buy Here]

Zoe Records
Release Date: January 2012
Grade: B

Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

There’s a certain folksy charm to Kathleen Edwards, despite the heavy emotional territory she treads here in her fourth full-length album.  Written in the span of time between a divorce with long-time collaborator Collin Cripps and a new relationship with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, it’s no surprise that Edwards comes across as earnestly contemplative, pleading for some form of emotional stability.

“Voyageur” features some solid alt-country Americana instrumentation on songs like “Chameleon/Comedian”, with just enough melancholy twang to belie the emotional content of Edwards’ lyrics.  Indeed, the lyrics tell the story: Edwards is making empty threats (“I’m moving to America”), looking “for a soft place to land”, and lamenting how she doesn’t “want to feel like this”.  This is clearly a record written in the wake of the turmoil of breakup, yet despite the moody lyrical territory and the added production from the brood rocker Vernon, much of the instrumentation remains upbeat and optimistic.  On “Empty Threat”, Edwards sounds positively optimistic, even as she acknowledges that she’s “learning to say never, never, never ever”, and on “Going to Hell” she rocks out amid the claim “I’m going to hell / and I’ll see you there.”

The album loses some momentum in the second half – perhaps this is symbolic of the shaky territory of a new relationship.  Edwards is at her best as a prosaic narrator, and on a couple of tracks (like “Sidecar”) she crafts some clunker metaphors.  On the whole, however, this is a strong lyrical effort that encompasses the emotional volatility of the voyage between relationships.  And it’s worth mentioning that Edwards has a great graphic designer – the LP cover is an instant favorite.

For Fans of: Neko Case, Bon Iver, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Alt-Country

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