"Write a hit so I can talk you up/ nobody likes a girl who won't sober up/ he says he's got a strategy, I'm a test of his sanity/ you can't even make up my mind/ just one more song the radio won't like." - 'One More Song The Radio Won't Like.' - Kathleen Edwards.

Kathleen Edwards
Canadian chanteuse Kathleen Edwards has been compared with Lucinda Williams since bursting the media moat through influential TV shows such as Letterman.

The acclaim was a complete contrast to her audience reaction with Lucinda's namesake - laconic Texan singer and actor Don Williams, 63.

"I did a tour opening for Don Williams," says Edwards, 25, who launched debut album 'Failer' (Rounder-Shock) to praise south of the Canadian border and in Australia.

"I didn't really know his music but I knew his name. Everyone in the audience was older than 55. It was a side of rural Canada that I hadn't seen. They didn't get me. They didn't understand what I was about or what I was doing."

Neither will Australians if they only give Edwards' surrealistic music a casual critique.


Kathleen, daughter of Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister Len Edwards, lives on 5 acres at Wakefield near Canadian capital Ottawa.

She grew up in and around Ottawa and also called South Korea and Switzerland home when her father was posted overseas.

Edwards's privileged globe trotting youth has lanced a few boils.

Last year, she stopped speaking to the Ottawa Citizen's pop critic after he called her music "rich-kid in-a-rusty-truck songs."

"I know when not to place any value on what people say," Edwards says.
Her album is successor to a six-song 1999 EP, 'Building 55,' sold from her car on tour as a singing chauffeur.

'Failer' was produced by Edwards and pianist Dave Draves and released in Canada in September, 2002.

"It was really designed to be a demo that I took to record labels," says Edwards.
"It just ended up being the finished product."


Initially it sounds just like that with the passion of 'Six 0'Clock News' and 'One More Song The Radio Won't Like' morphing into atmospheric ambience akin to the 'Cowboy Junkies' - melancholia merchants infamous for polarising audiences.

But don't give up on the singer who learned classical violin from 5 to 17 while living in Korea and Switzerland.

'Six O'Clock News,' fuelled by slide guitar and banjo, is a videogenic vignette with a sting in the tail - the narrator fails to avert the public death of the father of her child.

'I tried to come clean but I guess it's no use/ your face is all over the 6 o'clock news/ they cleared the streets/ and then they closed the schools/ I can't even get inside."

It segues into 'One More Song the Radio Won't Like,' which belies its title with a hook which may enhance wireless appeal.

Not here of course - but on that mythical level playing field.
"That song is more about labels put on music and people than it is about radio," Edwards says.


But repeated listening give songs such as 'Hockey Skates' an almost perverse appeal.
"I don't write songs by taking hours and hours to agonize over them. I kind of write impulsively, and as a result there's some kind of edge to the songs. I'm worried that I'll overthink what I've written," she says. "'Hockey Skates' was done in ten minutes, off the cuff."

There's a visit to the cheating triangle - staple of country in 'Westby' - where the younger woman snarls with her taunt "I don't think your wife would like my friends."

"They're all from a time in my life when things were really up and down," says Edwards.
"Some songs, like Lone Wolf for example, I wrote with the idea of a person. It's my way of being able to carry that individual with me wherever I go. But the rest of the record is very personal. '12 Bellevue' and 'National Steel' definitely were therapy songs for me."

That therapy works but not the finale ballast - a morass that sinks 'Sweet Little Duck.'
Edwards has already found a niche - her dreamy tunes are narcotic, nocturnal nirvana for disenchanted, downtrodden rock radio refugees.

At 25 she has time to master mood swings like eclectic writers Gretchen Peters, Matraca Berg and Leslie Satcher and expand her reach or puck off and be typecast as a one stick pony.


Edwards and her guitarist/partner Colin Cripps, who is nearly 20 years her senior, have pucked off precious peers.

Their live shows are generating a frothy response from fans and critics.

The two lovers engaged in a kind of animalistic courting ritual on stage, circling and leaning in toward each other while cranking out urgent riffs on a pair of electric guitars. Edwards's cheeks took on a reddish hue for good measure.

"I'm sure there are the naysayers who might think that my relationship with Colin
isn't good for the band, but there are a lot of couples in a similar position who make it work," Edwards says.

"At least we can be together, without the stress that people have when they have to be apart all the time."


Edwards sings with straight whiskey within easy reach.

"I'm a bourbon girl. We just got back from Kentucky, and I bought $100 worth of whiskey to take home."

She says Rounder Records never misses an opportunity to promote the fact that she likes a nip.

Her web site features plenty of shots of the singer amid empty glasses, bottles and other party detritus.

In fact, when Failer was released stateside in January, it landed on music critics' desks with an airplane bottle of Maker's Mark attached.

"I thought it was the best thing they ever came up with. Yeah, I can drink and party, but it's not like I'm some raging alcoholic. I couldn't keep up this pace if I was."

top / back to diary