"I can spot your kind a million miles away/ buckle down boots and a bloodshot gaze/ you talk so sweet until the going gets tough/ the last job you pulled was never big enough."
In State - Kathleen Edwards.

Toronto troubadour Kathleen Edwards has many reasons to thank guitarist husband Colin Cripps as a career catalyst.

It's not just his production of her second album Back To Me that enabled it to leap the moat of Canadian pop radio.

There's also his Pink Emerson vintage radio that illustrated a song and the CD sleeve.

And then there's Cripps' rhinestone Nudie suit that he wears on special occasions.

"It's pretty hot," Edwards told Nu Country TV in a call from their new apartment in Toronto.
"It gets my wheels turning."

Cripps is unlikely to wear the suit on their Australian debut tour in September but he will bring his favourite guitars.

"He tries not to bring it out too often because it's a special little number and weighs about 85 pounds and is very hot because it's made out of polyester," Edwards added.

"He wore it twice when we were opening for The Stones and AC-DC and he wore it on a Gram Parsons show in California. He was the only person who had his very own Nudie suit. It was like Porter Wagoner walked in."


Cripps hails from Hamilton, Ontario, and played with Canadian band Crash Vegas from 1998-1995 and Junk House and also produced Oh Susannah before hooking up with his singing spouse.

Edwards, daughter of a Saskatchewan farm born diplomat, broke here with her low budget self produced debut disc Failer, recorded with a bunch of musician friends.

The album was released by Canadian label Zoe and distributed in the U.S. by Rounder and here by Shock.

Although it didn't impact initially in her home country it landed her opening roles on concerts by artists diverse as The Rolling Stones, AC-DC and Bob Dylan.

Failer sold about 80,000 units in the U.S. and scored her major TV spots on shows such as Letterman.

She won exposure here on community and ABC Radio and her video clips for singles
One More Song That Radio Won't Like and 6 O'Clock News won exposure on CMC and Nu Country TV.

But this time, with Cripps at the production helm, she has pumped up the dynamics - major airplay enables her to headline clubs twice the capacity of her first foray across the border.

"When I had made Failer I hadn't toured with a band," Edwards says.

"I then toured for a year so when we made the new record we were a tight band. My first record didn't get played much on radio in Canada. This time around we're getting more airplay here than in America - it's being played on pop stations."


The romantic and professional pairing of Edwards, 26, and Cripps, 44, hasn't eclipsed the mass success of the Shania Twain-Mutt Lange partnership but there are parallels.

"Maybe it we sold 20 million records they might say that but we're like the slumming version," Edwards joked.

"We're more like Porter & Dolly but I have to get working more on my bust."

Colin produced Back To Me at Toronto's Reaction Studios with guest roles by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, Sarah McLachlan producer Pierre Marchand on piano, My Morning Jacket vocalist Jim James and Jim Bryson.

Cripps' influence tempered Edwards whiskey laced stage shows and also broadened her songwriting.

"Thematically, the record's about, sort of, dislocation and relocation and absence," the singer said.

"I consciously tried not to make another record that was all about relationships. I still wanted it to have that sexual energy, the raw emotion and sincerity. But I didn't just want he and she and breakup and fucking and all that shit."


But she personalised Summerlove - one of two songs she wrote with Cripps.

"I wrote Summerlove about two weeks after meeting Colin," she recalled.

"I was in his apartment - he had gone off to produce a record. I was worried it was going to be a super cheese ball ballad love song. It was the first time I had written a happy love song. I played it for him - he said it needs a bridge. I said it doesn't need a fucking bridge - bridges are for Nashville.

He said trust me and ended up being right."

Edwards, renowned for her wild stage shows, has toned down booze fuelled spot fires primed by airline bottles of Makers Mark being sent to critics with her Failer disc.

"Colin has made a huge contribution, he has great perspective from his experience,' Edwards admitted.

"I used to drink a bottle of Bourbon on stage every night. He said it cheapens you and makes you seem like you're acting like your music is not good enough with people watching you drink. He pointed out amazing things - it made me a better performer and songwriter. It made me hold my head a little higher."

But is Edwards now a teetotaller?

"No, I'm still a sucker for good Bourbon," she confided.

"I drink less during the show and more after the show. We're going to Louisville in Kentucky on the next tour and I'm buying a box to put all the Bourbon in."


Edwards filmed the video for her title track single with punk icon John Doe.

"I hate making music videos, I more interested in playing shows and having a cool stage production and working on songs," says Edwards.

"John Doe plays my boyfriend. He said 'people will think I'm you dad in the video' but he was great."

The tune, a country triangle tryst of sorts, had diverse reactions.

"Some people find the song disturbing," Edwards revealed.

"I see it more as a fun Thelma & Louise kind of song. It was recently described in a review as a date rape song but that completely missed the point. Everyone is allowed to interpret it as they want but I thought it was a fun girl song."


Entrée song In State also provoked diverse reaction.

"A woman emailed me and said it was a stalking song, she was being stalked by an ex-boyfriend," Edwards said.

"She said it was creepy, the song was perpetuating her problem. I thought it was a compliment as it was accurately describing what she was going through, her situation. I was certainly not responsible for it. I think it was more the other way around, more that my character was stalking someone. People assumed it was happening to me - but it was more like I was playing the role of the man in the song."

Edwards enjoy role-playing as it enables her to flesh out her characters.

"I like writing songs about life and about people who go through stuff," Edwards she says.
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to write songs about people that aren't necessarily me, because they're somebody."


"This is not my town and it will never be/ this is our apartment filled with your things/ this is your life, I get copied keys." - Copied Keys - Kathleen Edwards.

Pink Emerson Radio was one of several songs that linked her past and future.

"Colin has a Pink Emerson in the apartment, he collects vintage radios," Edwards said of a song that examined her relocation to Toronto.

"Five or six years ago I was living in a crappy apartment in a low rise building in city of Ottawa. A bunch of people eating in pizza parlour saw flames coming out of the building. The fire alarms didn't work and there was no security.

They got in to warn and we got out in time. I saved my guitar and violin. I knocked on the door of the woman across the hall and got no response. Luckily people raised her and she got out with her two cats and a dog. The women became one of my best friends. We moved to the country together to Wakefield. She lost everything. I never thought of it being a catalyst for the song, I then realised it was a huge catalyst."

Edwards felt a sense of dislocation when she moved to Toronto after living on five acres at Wakefield near Ottawa.

It produced the song Copied Keys - one of the highlights of Back To Me - and sibling song of sorts of Pink Emerson Radio.


For Edwards it was déjà vu after a childhood spent overseas and a year on the road to promote Failer.

She spent her formative years in Switzerland and Korea when her father Len was a Canadian ambassador.

And Edwards, who starting playing violin at age five and took up guitar at 12, will be fully tooled up when she tours here.

"I'm playing 6 and 12 string acoustic and electric guitar and Colin will play electric guitar," she said.

"I'll have to get my own Nudie suit. Colin is always worried he's going to scratch his guitar wearing his Nudie suit so he tries not to wear it too often."

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