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Failing Beautifully

Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards - Failer
(Zoe Records)
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 10, 2003

Review by Tony Bonyata

She may not be able to pick her friends, but she sure knows how to make some sweet, sweet music.
On singer / songwriter Kathleen Edwards' earthy debut album Failer, the 24-year old Canadian-bred gal sings about the people she's drawn to - drunks, potheads and losers. And while these types of characters are nothing new for an alt-country chanteuse to croon about, Edwards makes you want to pull up a bar stool and hear their woes, as she introduces them alongside a trailer park-full of ballads and ballbusters that are holstered with electric and acoustic guitars, rich harmonies and one achingly beautiful voice - one that is more than hauntingly reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, both in tone and phrasing.
While she began her musical career as a classically trained violinist, Edwards later fell in love with the alternative-country sounds from Whiskeytown, a band which helped steer the direction that her own music would take. On Failer Edwards has pawned in her smaller stringed instrument for a more rootsy acoustic guitar and surrounded herself with a stable of expert musicians that not only know when to keep the floorboards swept clean, but also when to stampede past the corral gates with an unbridled sense of enthusiasm.
On the more frail moments, Edwards offers a child-like innocence on the introspective number "The Lone Wolf," while also revealing a venerable side on "Sweet Little Duck" and "Mercury." But as she and her band prove on the punchy "12 Bellevue," spiked with horns and a blistering lead guitar, and the rich country pop of "Six O' Clock News," "Westby" and "One More Song The Radio Won't Like," there's a lot more going for this album than just a voice that fell from the skies.
Despite a songbook packed with failed relationships and a ship-of-fools for friends and lovers, Kathleen Edwards' Failer is anything but.

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