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Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.25
Lyrics 9
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.25
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.25
Final Verdict: 93%
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Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (01/16/12)
Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur
Record Label: Zoe/Rounder
Release Date: Jan. 17, 2011


It has been nearly a decade since Ottawa singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards released her debut album Failer. With the release of Failer, Edwards was immediately crowned alt. country's next big thing and considered the heir apparent to Lucinda Williams. Her 2005 sophomore follow up Back To Me only furthered the notion that Edwards was indeed something truly special. But it wasn't until 2008 when she released the near-flawless Asking for Flowers that Edwards showed just how indelible she truly is. And so it is that three years have passed and the Canadian crooner is indeed back with her fourth and best album Voyageur. After working with famed producers Pierre Marchand and Jim Scott on her most recent two efforts, Edwards turned to a far more commercial and familiar name for help, her boyfriend: Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.

Voyageur opens with the sweetly hypnotic "Empty Threat," a rustling and rustic paean to her Canadian roots. Catchy, crisp and nary a flaw it's as strong an album opener as any released this year. The disc propels forward with the earthy and haunting "Chameleon/Comedian," and represents the first time at which Vernon's touch is indeed felt and heard. While Edwards has gone on record as admitting the song was written for a comedian friend of hers, the scope of the song points more towards the mix between public fronts and private pain, and it is this juxtaposition that makes the song so moving.

The album's first ballad, the gentle hush of "A Soft Place to Land," keeps things moving forward, but it isn't until lead single "Change the Sheets," that things really start escalating forward. A slow-starting mid-tempo nugget about moving forward, it is the kind of song that only someone as prescient as Edwards could right. Filled with lines like "My love is a stockpile of broken wills, like Santa Fe, margaritas and sleeping pills," its poetic, potent and easily one of the album's true standouts. Voyageur's second ballad comes in the form of "House Full of Empty Rooms." a sleepy and sedate number that proves Edwards is equally adept at ballads as she is with rockers and mid-tempo offerings. While it's not nearly as emotive or tender as "A Soft Place to Land," it's another honest effort and ends the disc's first half brilliantly.

The second half of Voyageur kick starts with the gently rolling "Mint," an organ-laden affair that is culled straight from the Sheryl Crow songbook. While Voyageur is devoid of filler, the strength of "Mint," actually feels more like an opening salvo for the driving valentine "Sidecar," one of Voyageur's true standouts, and another track in which Vernon's touch and voice are again heard. The placid "Pink Champagne," visits the Lucinda Williams songbook of pain and despair and does so with stunning results. If disappointment could have a voice, it would probably sound a lot like this. The slowly-rolling "Going to Hell," weaves and ducks quietly and hypnotically before teetering forward with swerve and energy. In truth, the song acts more as segue for one of the album's true peaks, the epic closer "For the Record." Sounding breathless, defeated and entirely spent, Williams' croons plaintively over a supple landscape. When she sings, "Hang me up on your cross, for the record I only wanted to sing songs," it feels as if she's delivering a last will and testament, and the collective baggage of the last nine songs have left her completely haggard and without vitality.

When all is said and done, Voyageur is as strong a release as Edwards has ever written and arguably 2012's first true standout. Whether its the help of Vernon or just an artist fully coming into her own, the Canadian chanteuse is indeed in the midst of something truly revelatory. These 10 ruminations of grief, despair, bewilderment and acceptance bubble with clairvoyance, character and professionalism. Employing help from not only Vernon, but also Norah Jones and Francis and the Lights among others, Voyageur is a true gem. For all those who knew she had something special with Failer, the undeniable charms of Voyageur are veritable proof of her unending talent.

Recommended If You Like Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow


Find Her Here http://www.kathleenedwards.org
 
Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
09:59 PM on 01/16/12
#2
blue_light_888
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beautiful review and the single I heard has me hooked.
06:58 AM on 01/17/12
#3
Jeremy Aaron
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I'm not typically a huge fan of female vocalists, but I liked Asking for Flowers quite a bit, so I was anxious to give this one a listen. It didn't disappoint.

Having grown up listening to a lot of country radio in the early- to mid-'90s, I'm reminded of Suzy Bogguss by her voice and style. I think it's kind of sad that such a listener friendly record is considered "alt" by today's standards.
07:48 AM on 01/17/12
#4
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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I'm not typically a huge fan of female vocalists, but I liked Asking for Flowers quite a bit, so I was anxious to give this one a listen. It didn't disappoint.

Having grown up listening to a lot of country radio in the early- to mid-'90s, I'm reminded of Suzy Bogguss by her voice and style. I think it's kind of sad that such a listener friendly record is considered "alt" by today's standards.
Your last point could not be more true. I don't hear a lot of Bogguss, but on more listens I will try and hear for it. I was hoping you'd opine in the comments, I'm so thankful you did. :)
08:25 AM on 01/17/12
#5
jdr277
I got a lion in my pocket I'm lying
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Found this girl on Exclaims most anticipated 2012 list. I don't like too many female vocalists (except Regina Spektor because she's a crazy awesome bitch), but this album is beautiful. I suggest fans of this and Regina to check out Hannah Georgas I found her on Exclaim as well.
check this song out -
08:50 AM on 01/17/12
#6
Quijiba
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this is a delight of a record. Great review
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