Kathleen Edwards - Back To Me
My introduction to Ms. Edwards came a few years back as her diminutive figure appeared onstage in a Glaswegian theatre. She was playing in front of an audience that most likely had never heard her debut. Unphased, she hunched herself over her guitar, strummed the opening chords to National Steel and opened her mouth. Within seconds, the scene was set - a failing relationship and silence on the phone - and you could find yourself tapping into her feelings with ease. The problem artists of her ilk often face is conveying the electricity of their live performances onto plastic but her debut Failer managed this pretty well and even got her a mention in Nick Hornby's 31 songs - pretty good for a lass who had previously been touring small North American bars sleeping in the back of her car.
Now comes the difficult follow-up to that album: Back To Me. The good news is she's sticking to that rough and ready feel - the opening In State is a pure gem of acoustic rock where she banishes a cheating boyfriend to twenty years in jail. The title track is much more upbeat and rock orientated - not too dissimilar to Tom Petty in his heavier moments. Pink Emerson Radio nostalgically recounts the burning down of her flat and her choice to save only her guitar and violin. Following in its wake, the hard hitting Independent Thief gives another take on her angry, unrequited love songs. The great tunes keep on coming - Summer Long deserves to be a hit single but sadly never will be and in Away she pens another delicate fully acoustic track with her heart-breaking voice drifting nonchalantly over the soundscape.
Throughout the production is professional but organic enough to let her voice breathe and soar. The artwork catches it all really - on the front, Edwards sits in a field in a retro dress looking strangely trad-folkie but on the back, she's clad in denim yielding a Gibson, seemingly ready to hit a power-chord - neither of these images are at odds with the album. It melds the best elements of her influences, stamped with her particular voice, giving us another record that will relentlessly burn its way into your mind.
Check out Kathleen on the road - a European tour is slated for April. More details on her site: KathleenEdwards.com. Some venues (Glasgow, London, Dublin) can be booked by Ticketmaster