Harmony Ridge Music

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  Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards Debut albums this impressive make you wonder where the artist has been hiding. With "Failer," distributed on Rounder Records' boutique Zoe imprint, Kathleen Edwards is born wholly formed, with a distinctive style, a pleasing voice and polished skills that immediately put her in the ranks of such established artists as Kasey Chambers, Shawn Colvin and -- dare we say it? -- a happy Lucinda Williams.

We're not alone in this belief: Edwards's band clearly is inspired by the material despite the singer's unknown status. Electric guitarist Jim Bryson supplements her acoustic rhythms with tight, tasteful rock-flavored melodies; the countryish rhythm section of drummer Dave Dudley and bassist Kevin McCarragher never overpowers the vocals, which are firm in delivery but delicate in intent.

While the melodies have excellent melodic hooks, it's the brazen lyrics that impress the most; Edwards writes unapologetic, to-the-point poetry intended to demolish the unlucky guy trying to break up with her ("The Lone Wolf," "Sweet Lil' Duck"). "Hockey Skates," the only allusion to her Canadian origin, is a pretty ballad with bitter imagery; "Six O'Clock News," which bounces along on a contradictory rootsy beat, devastates upon second listen -- it's about a young pregnant woman singing to her slain lover; "Westby," about a lurid affair, has the penetrating line "And if you weren't so old I'd tell my friends, but I don't think your wife would like my friends." Ouch.

There couldn't be a more ironically incorrect name for the album. "Failer" is anything but.

- Buzz McClain, Washington Post

CD $14.99 catalog# pol431035
Hockey Skates

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