My wife knows me really well. So, it is no surprise that she gifted me Kathleen Edwards’s new record Total Freedom for our anniversary. Ms. Edwards is probably my favorite Canadian Singer-Songwriter not named Neil Young.
I will not attempt to type out the story of Kathleen’s break from music. It can be found ad nauseum all over the world wide internets. Let’s just say that it has been a loooong wait for new music from her, and in a year that has featured some outstanding new releases, this is the one I’ve been most looking forward to. (Yes, in a year that has featured new releases by Bob Dylan, Drive-by Truckers, and Jason Isbell).
And it is great. I have not taken it off my turntable in days. If you are not familiar with Kathleen’s work this is as good a place to start as any (and that is saying something).
She recently recorded a live Album Release event for NPR at her coffee shop, Quitters, and it features her playing the album in full. I’m not sure who mixed the sound, but it’s pretty damn impressive…I can’t imaging a coffee shop being optimized for acoustics. At any rate if you’re so inclined you can listen here:
Not that it really matters but my favorite songs are the 1st, “Glenfern,” and the 5th, “Options Open.” And the other thing of note is how great it is to see the sheer joy on her face when they launch into the first song. It seems the face of someone who is creating her art on her terms.
“Glenfern” seems to be about coming grips with one of life’s bad rolls, and learning to look back on it seeing the good “stuff”, while still being cognizant of the life lesson. “Options Open” resonates with me because it’s all about realizing that at some point doors need to be shut behind you… keeping your “Options Open” only works for so long. *
I hope she’s back with us for good.
*I believe in any art, that once it is introduced to the listener, viewer, reader they take over the ownership. So, while these may not be the themes Kathleen was exploring. I am confident that this is what the songs are “about”, because it is how they move me, the listener.