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Archive for the ‘Kathleen Edwards’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MDOU MOCTAR-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #213 (May 24, 2021).

Mdou Moctar has been getting some well deserved recognition lately.  It’s pretty great to see a Nigerian performer, who plays distinctly Nigerian style music making an impression on American audiences.

Of course, since I’m contrary, I’m more attracted to Moctar’s drummer who is playing a calabash–in this case red object that looks like a turtle shell and makes a remarkable range of sounds.  But really the focus should be on Moctar’s guitar playing.

Get ready for some fiery desert guitar-shredding, Saharan style, with the music of Mdou Moctar. Producer and American bassist Mikey Coltun told me that “the concert was filmed outside of the house we were all staying at in Niamey, Niger, in November/December 2020.” He continued, “As with any sort of musical happenings in the region, once some music is blasted, that’s an invitation for anyone to come join, sing, clap, dance, and just come together as a community. We wanted to present the Tiny Desk exactly like this, from when we started playing to finally the energy growing with fans crowded around filming on their cell phones and passing around Tuareg tea.”

And so, the four musicians, seated on a blanket (designed with oversized roses) with amps on either side, start playing with no fanfare.

The (home) concert starts off with Mahamadou Souleymane, a.k.a. Mdou Moctar, playing a melodic line on acoustic guitar, with Ahmoudou Madassane on rhythm guitar, Souleymane Ibrahim playing percussion on a calabash, and Mikey Coulton on his Fender Mustang bass on the song “Ya Habibti” from the album Afrique Victime. It’s an album of songs dealing with intense subjects close to Mdou Moctar’s heart: colonialism, exploitation, inequality, but also love.

The song almost feels like a drone because the bass and rhythm pretty much never change throughout.  The drumming is muted–effective but never sharp.  And Moctar’s voice and lead guitar work is subtle.  I’m sure since I don’t understand what he’s singing (which sounds pretty intense), I find his voice very soothing.

“Tala Tannam” follows in the same pattern–except the bass is even less mobile and the way Moctar sings it feels like a lullaby.  The best part is watching Ibrahim and Coltun clearly enjoying themselves–smiling to each other and even hugging at one point.  It’s hard to know how long these songs are as they seems to just go until they stop, but this one does have a deliberate ending.  It’s when he puts down his acoustic and grabs the electric guitar.

You can hear the real musical fire on the last song, the roughly 7-minute psych-rock title track to Afrique Victime. “Africa is a victim of so many crimes,” Mdou Moctar sings in French. “If we stay silent, it will be the end of us.” Silence is not something in Mdou Moctar’s vocabulary.

Moctar’s soloing was subtle on the other songs, but you can really here it standing out with this sharp electric guitar sound.  It’s nice to watch his fingers fly around the neck. There’s some guitar god moments in the soloing–including some finger tapping–but having him seated and equal with everyone else, the solos never seem showoffy.  I also like the way the song speeds up incrementally as it goes–mostly notable by how fast Ibrahim is suddenly hitting the calabash.

[READ: June 10, 2021] Losing the Girl

This final book of the trilogy was a little disappointing for me.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I feel like there wasn’t enough resolution for anyone.

The book opens on Nigel.  Claudia has shown up to tutor him in math.  He is so smitten he writes a poem that he submits for class.  He calls it “Teacher” and his teacher assumes it is about her.  I can’t even believe that he would submit a poem with the line “teach me how to make puppy love turn into doggy style”  (Nigel is so clueless).

Next we see Brett at his mother’s funeral.  Johanna tries to comfort him but he blows her off demanding to know why she didn’t tell him about her and Paula.  They smooth things over and she asks if his father knows that his mother died.  He says no, he hasn’t talked to his father in a long time.  Jo says her mother might know how to get in touch with him.

The next section is about Darren.  He is by himself remembering how his father hurt his mother and how he doesn’t want to repeat the cycle. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #211 (May 19, 2021).

Kathleen Edwards is a wonderful songwriter with a fantastic voice.  I discovered her from her 2008 album Asking For Flowers.

She put out one more record and then disappeared.

Struggling with depression, Kathleen Edwards opened a coffee shop called Quitters Coffee and lived a very different life.  A handful of years later, in 2017, she was invited to Nashville by Maren Morris to write some songs. That Nashville visit sparked a new beginning and eventually the 2020 album Total Freedom, which birthed the four songs you hear in this Tiny Desk concert.

So Kathleen Edwards is back with a wonderful new album.

On this Tiny desk she is joined by Todd Lombardo and Justin Schipper on dobro (that slide guitar looking thing).

Kathleen’s voice sounds great and on “Glenfern.”

From a house in East Nashville, Kathleen Edwards sings about how thankful she is for those early aughts when she was praised with awards, television appearances, touring to packed venues — even if the tour bus with the bed in back was “total crap.” As she continues to sing “Glenfern,” the opening track to her first album in eight years as well as this Tiny Desk (home) concert, she remembers her former husband and collaborator.

After the first song she introduces the band and says I can’t sing through a mask so after this we’re going straight to to the COVID clinic.

Kathleen Edwards seems happy playing these new songs.  They can be songs of sadness, sometimes filled with seething, such as “Ashes to Ashes,” but she’s also grateful for her everlasting love for a four-legged creature and the little catalpa tree where it’s buried.

There’s some beautiful interplay of guitars in this song.  It’s amazing how great her voice sounds with no accompaniment, no effects.  And afterwards she tells a delightful story about catalpa trees–I just passed one on a dog walk yesterday and absolutely want to try to grow my own this year.

“Hard On Everyone” is the song that’s been getting some airplay around here.  It’s so catchy, I love it.  And the lyrics are pointed and spot on.  when the song is over she and Todd bump elbows and their guitars bump for a nice resounding thump.

I would love to see Kathleen Edwards live.  She played one of her first shows after retiring at XPN Fest, unfortunately that was the year we went to Newport Folk Festival.  Now I see she’s coming around again, but she’s opening for Jason Isbell, and I don’t want to see him, so I’ll have to hope she finds a smaller club to headline.

[READ: June 10, 2021] Losing the Girl

T. brought this book home from school and I though the cover looked pretty neat.  When I looked inside I really liked the crazy drawing style(s) of it (S. did not like it at all).

The book opens on Nigel Jones, a boy with dreadlocks (his profile is always great, and MariNaomi uses these dreadlocks to express Nigels’ mood in clever ways).  The book also uses simple things like arrows to convey movement in a panel, which I liked.  One of the early ones shows a city block.  We just saw Nigel get off a bus and the arrows and a tiny figure on a skateboard show which way he is going.  This effect is used very well at a party later as we see the crowd move about the room in a static picture.

It’s through Nigel that we learn that nobody’s phones are working–this is a steady concern and a minor (or major) irritant throughout the story.   We also learn that a girl, Claudia Jones, (no relation) has been missing for three days.  Everyone has speculations about what happened to her.

Nigel lives with his mom (his dad has moved out) and Nigel is not too happy about the new arrangements–just because your parents separate doesn’t mean they fight less.  In school the next day Nigel tells a joke to Emily.  I found it very funny but Emily doesn’t seem to.  She asks if that’s his way of flirting with her.  A lightbulb goes off and he says yes (he’s had a crush on her for years).  She agrees to meet him at the bleachers later. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATE DAVIS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #59 (August 4, 2020).

I hadn’t heard of Kate Davis before this Home Concert.

Her songs are simple and straightforward with a real timeless quality.  She reminds me a lot of Kathleen Edwards.  Turns out that she also co-wrote Sharon van Etten’s “Seventeen.”

Like so many artists, Kate Davis was to be on tour during the spring and summer of 2020. She was scheduled to play a concert at my desk in May. Sitting by her desk at home, Kate Davis is marking time by writing new music….  She’s an extraordinary lyricist. Her 2019 album, Trophy, was a sharply worded collection of songs, many about growing up and a powerful tune about her father’s death.

“Cloud” has a great melody throughout, and the chorus is great–with her falsetto moment an unexpected bonus.  The slow middle section is also a really nice surprise.

“Open Heart,” the second song performed for her Tiny Desk (home) concert, is about a broken heart. It’s a subject tackled by many, but her lyrical prowess sets the scene in the hospital, where the doctor cuts her open, sees her critical condition, and takes out her broken heart. She sings, “Put the pieces back together, looks like it’s been shattered by a bad love,” later adding, “You’d rather feel this pain than have a broken heart.”

This song features another great delivery as she sings the lyric high but then adds a lower almost spoken word during the bridge “deep…breath.”  The song builds and builds to the end and I love that the chugging guitar chords ends with a slightly-off-ringing note that adds a cool amount of dissonance to a song about a broken heart.

I guess these songs sound different on the record since the blurb says:

Hearing these songs stripped to their essence–just Kate Davis and her guitar–exposes her charm and wit.

“I Like Myself” is a finger-picked style of playing–sounding quite different from the other songs.  The lyrics are very thoughtful:

I kind of like myself
Cause she likes me
And since I think the world of her
And she of me
Then I’m exactly who and where I want to be
Who and where I want to be

“Ride or Die,” was written before quarantine and its perspective has changed since.  The chord structure and vocal melody is unusual and very cool.    I especially like the way she adds a really slow section in the middle–a picked melody (of more unusual chords). This is my favorite of her songs and I’m looking forward top hearing more.

Davis looks at the camera a lot during this performance–making her seem very confident, which I gather she is.

[READ: August 1, 2020] “Dalton’s Box”

I loved this story.  It was fast and colloquial.  It was funny and dark and I want to read more stories like it.

The story is basically a conversation between two brothers.  The one brother asks if the other remembers Mick Dalton.  He does.

A few months back, Dalton won the Lottery.  Not a huge amount though, about 3,000 quid.  And Dalton, who is usually in trouble for some petty crime or another, says he’s going to invest it.

That means a get rich quick(ish) scheme selling contraband.  But this time Dalton is smart, you see.  He’;s going to sell contraband Marlboro cigarettes (I have no idea how that’s going to work). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 27, 2020] Sarah Harmer

I don’t remember when I first heard Sarah Harmer.

I think it was back in 2000 with her first album You Were Here.  (She has an album that she recorded before it but it wasn’t officially released until later).

You Were Here had the song “Basement Apt.” which was a reasonably big hit.  I also checked out her previous band Weeping Tile who are unjustly overlooked.

Harmer put out consistently great records, including I’m a Mountain, a bluegrass album that is totally awesome.  It took her five years to release the next album, Oh Little Fire, because she became an environmental activist and performed music mostly in guest roles.

Now it’s been ten years since Fire and she is back with a new album called Are You Gone.

She told us that this was the second night of her tour–a warm up for the big times in Canada.  Sarah had a four piece band with her.  She introduced them twice and I couldn’t make out a single name in the bunch.  But I was able to look them up. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-“It’s Christmastime (Let’s Just Survive)” (2019).

I really like Kathleen Edwards and I was so delighted to hear that she was coming out of … semi-retirement?… this summer.  In the last few years, she has opened up her own coffee shop, in Stittsville, Ontario called Quitters Coffee [road trip?].

I couldn’t believe that she played XPN Fest on the year that we had tickets to the Newport Folk Festival.  I had hoped she’s play Newport as well, but sadly no.  She played two new songs and a few older ones and her voice sounds great (thanks YouTube).  In the spirit of coming back, she has released this wryly amusing Christmas song. Like many of her songs, there is a nice mix of humor and bite in this song–set to a very catchy melody.

With a slow lap steel guitar starting the song, she begins

It’s a wonderful time where we all descend to my parent’s house in the West End.  [Hope they subscribe to the West End Phoenix].

Then the song gets to the point:

Uncle Dave and Susan bring their feral cat / and homemade wine that tastes like crap.

There’s a few more examples of amusingly bad Christmas happenings.  One of my favorites is

Someone let the dog lick the gravy boat / and now the air in here unbearable

I also enjoyed this line, because it hits home:

You have a meltdown when we play scrabble / Its not my fault you’re only left with vowels.

Musically, the song is quite lovely.  There’s a pretty bridge where she sings lyrics that sound sweet until you listen closely, “tell me a story we’ve heard before and drag it out even more.”

And just when you think the song is only dark and cynical, the instrumental break adds a refrain of Kathleen quietly singing “meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.”

I truly hope that this song gets played a lot during this and future holidays.  It may not make it to #1 like “All I Want for Christmas is You,” but it’s a lot more honest–and really catchy.

I’m so excited that Kathleen is back that I’m posting the video for the song right here!

I have also just learned that this song comes from a new Christmas album called A Dualtone Christmas. (although I don’t really like much else on it).

[READ: December 19, 2019] “Letter from San Francisco”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story is indeed a letter from San Francisco.

There are a few things redacted from it–the sender and the recipient’s names and two lines in the middle which are the details of their huge fight. (more…)

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shoppingSOUNDTRACK: MATT MAYS-Live at Massey Hall (May 4, 2018).

I had never heard of Matt Mays.  He was once a part of the Canadian country band The Guthries (who I also don’t know).  Perhaps the most surprising (and disappointing) thing to me about this show is when I saw an ad for this concert and saw that Kathleen Edwards was opening for him (!).  And that so far they haven’t released the Kathleen Edwards show.

Before the show he says he wants all feelings present–happy, sad–he praises the expression “all the feels” because that’s what he wants to happen tonight.  He wants the night to be “like a Nova Scotia kitchen party.”  You laugh you cry you dance and you fight all in one kitchen.

He starts with “Indio.”  Like most of these songs, it is a rocking guitar song with a definite country-rock feel.  It’s also interesting that a Nova Scotia guy is singing about “old fashioned California sin.”  There’s a ton of lead guitar work from Adam Baldwin.  Mays also plays guitar and there’s an acoustic guitar as well from Aaron Goldstein  The song breaks midway through to a piano melody from Leith Fleming-Smith.  Mays asks “You feel like singing Toronto? It’s real easy.”  And it is: “Run run run you are free now.  run run run you are free.”

For “Station Out of Range,” he invites his dear friend Kate Dyke from St Johns, Newfoundland.  She sings backing vocals.  It opens with some big crushing drums from Loel Campbell.  It has a slower tempo, but it grows really big with some really massive drum fills.

“Building a Boat” opens with a repeating keyboard pattern before a real rocking riff kicks in.  Ryan Stanley also plays guitars.  The song rocks on with a lot of little guitar solos.  Mays takes one and then Baldwin follows.  They jam this pretty long.

“Take It on Faith” starts with a simple piano before the guitars come roaring in with two searing solos.  The melody is really catchy, too.

“Terminal Romance” is a slower number.  Mays puts his guitar down and its mostly piano and bass
(Serge Samson).  Eventually a guitar with a slide is added.  It builds as more guitars come in.  They jam this song for about 8 minutes.

He ends the show with “Cocaine Cowgirl,” an oldie that still means a lot to him.   He says he’s been playing Toronto since he was 19 years-old in font of tow people.  He’s thrilled to be at Massey Hall.  His band is his best buds from Nova Scotia.   It’s an absolutely wailing set ender with Mays throwing in some wicked solos.  The song seems like its over but Mays plays some really fast guitar chords and aftee a few bars everyone joins in and rips the place part with intensity.  It runs to nearly ten minutes and it’s a  really satisfying ending.

[READ: August 3, 2019] “Shopping in Jail”

When an author releases a lot of books and essays in various formats, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll wind up re-reading one or two.  Especially if some of those essays are reprinted in other books.

So it turns out that I read this small book five years ago (it’s understandable that I didn’t remember that after five years).  Here’s what I said about it five years ago:

Just when I thought I had caught up with everything that Douglas Coupland had published, I came across this book, a collection of his recent essays.  I enjoy the very unartistic cover that Sternberg Press has put on this.  It looks extremely slapdash–look at the size of the print and that the contents are on the inside front cover.  But the essays contained within are pure Coupland and are really enjoyable.

I have read a number of his older essays in recent years.  And here’s the thing: reading old Coupland essays just makes you think, ho hum, he knew some things.  But you don’t really think that he was on the forefront of whatever he was thinking.  So to read these essays almost concurrently is really fascinating.

His thoughts are science fiction, but just on the cusp of being very possible, even probable.  He also looks at things in ways that the average person does not–he notices that on 9/11 people didn’t have picture phones–imagine how more highly documented it would have been.  These essays are largely about technology, but they’re also about the maturation and development of people and how they relate to things.  Coupland can often seem very ponderous, and yet with these essays he seems prescient without actually trying to predict anything.  I enjoyed this collection very much.

I’m going to include what I said last time (in italics), but I felt the need to add some five-years later thoughts on each essay. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: JIM GUTHRIE-Tiny Desk Concert #294 (August 10, 2013).

jimgI was unfamiliar with Guthrie before this set and I almost didn’t play it because of his mustache–he just looks so country to me.  But then I read that he and his band drove 9 hours from Ontario just to do the show (which is 11 minutes long, so that’s pretty crazy).  But the set is really good.

The three songs come from Guthrie’s new album Takes Time (his first solo album in ten years).  And I was hooked…not right from the start, but 15 seconds into “The Difference a Day makes” when the guitar plays the chorus riff.  There is something so… Canadian about the melody line.  It reminds me of Neil Young, Sloan, Rheostatics, even Kathleen Edwards, all of these great Canadian songwriters who play with slightly different melodies.  The fact that he sings “doubt” and “out” with an Ontario accent solidifies it.  It’s one of my favorite mellow songs of the year.  “Before & After” sounds a bit like  Barenaked Ladies mellow song, like something  written by Kevin Hearn.  I tend to not like the Hearn songs, but I thin kit’s that I don’t like Hearn’s voice, because I like this song quite a lot.

Guthrie has a delicate but strong voice–I can’t imagine him screaming, but he conveys a lot.  Especially in the final song, the more mellow (and minor key) “Like a Lake.”  I’ve heard Tiny Desk shows that go on for five or six songs.  I wish that Bob and Robin had let them play for ten more minutes. Now I’m off to find his records.  Check it out.

[READ: September 10, 2013] 3 book reviews

Tom Bissell reviewed three new books in the August 2013 issue of Harper’s.  I like Bissell in general and since I’ll probably wind up writing about these when they get collected anyway, why not jump the gun here.  Especially when there’s three good-sounding books like these.

sagamoreThe first is Peter Orner’s Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.  I know Orner from McSweeney’s mostly, where I’ve read a few of his things  But one of the stories that Bissell mentions from this short story collection sounds familiar and yet it doesn’t seem to be something I’ve read.  Hmmm.  Well anyhow, he says that Orner’s previous book (with a title that Bissell assumes he had to fight to keep–The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo) was a great piece of fiction about Africa, and that his previous collection Esther Stories was also very solid.

This book is a little stranger—bundled into 4 sections, it includes more than fifty “stories” and is all of 200 pages.  (Sounds like just the kind of thing I can get into).  Bissell suggests that the stories have a layer of remove, like someone telling a story about someone telling a story.  Or, if they were about a bank robbery, the story would actually be about someone describing having once met the guy who sold the robbers their ski masks.  But the real selling point for me was this pithy description of the collection: imagine Brief Interviews with Hideous Men written by Alice Munro.   That sounds hard to pass up. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_08_12_13RussoGate.inddSOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-Live from Mountain Stage (April 16, 2013).

Kkedsathleen Edwards is one of my favorite country/folkie performers.  I love her song craft and the beautiful way she sings.  And I’d love to see her live if she ever comes around.  Although she explains during this Mountain Stage show that it was near the end of her tour and she sounds….tired. Or perhaps just mellow.

I love the five  songs she plays “Asking for Flowers,” “Change the Sheets,” “House Full of Empty Rooms,” “Chameleon/Comedian,” and “Soft Place to Land,” but they all seem so…quiet.  I think of Edwards as kind of a rowdy performer—she can wail with them all, but everything seems dialed back here somewhat.  “Empty Rooms” is so quiet (and it is a mellow song, but even more so here).  But even  “Change the Sheets” which has a bridge and chorus that just blows me away the way it rocks and “Comedian” which ends with such wonderful anguish on the record, are both much more mellow here.

She has a very funny sequence talking about female singers and how she wants to create a Canadian ladies band called Modern Beaver (and she is apparently serious about it, and even has songs for them (as of summer 2013), but no time or energy to get it done.  Maybe for Xmas?

Any Kathleen Edwards is good Kathleen Edwards, but I’m looking forward to the next rowdy set I get to hear from her.

[READ: August 28, 2013] “Meet the President”

This is a most unexpected story from Zadie Smith.  It is set in the future and features a technology that allows the wearer to be fully absorbed into a virtual space.

It opens with a boy, Bill Peek, standing on a barren beach in England.  While his family may have once come from this area, that was immaterial, he considers himself a global child, accompanying his father on inspections.  But this part of England is a wasteland and only those who could not afford to leave England were still there.

Bill is pleased to have the beach to himself so he can plug in.  But then he is approached by an old lady with a young girl.  The girl, Agatha, is simple.  And both of the women talk to Bill even though he is doing his best to ignore them while he interacts with his virtual goggles.

Bill is deep in his world, creating his avatar (which has breasts and a tail) and by arming himself with grenades and knives.  He is trying to create the landscape.  Other users wondered whether you should augment the area around you or use a more or less barren world as your basis.  Bill has chosen the barren world and learns that it is three miles to the White House. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-Tiny Desk Concert #206 (April 5, 2012).

Kathleen Edwards has a great voice and she writes great songs.  There’s not much more to this set than her singing four fantastic songs in the Tiny Desk setting.  Although her songs have full band arrangements on records, they do not sound out of place in this smaller, acoustic environment.

As she introduces the final song of the set “Change the Sheets” she says it’s the first time they’ve played it acoustically.  You’d ever know.  It sounds great.

There’s not a lot more to say about this Tiny Desk set–it highlights a great songwriter with a great voice.

[READ: October 15, 2012] “The Third Born”

I had a wee bit of trouble following this story, although I admit I didn’t give it my undivided attention at first.

If this isn’t an excerpt, then it’s a fairly disconnected story with large gaps–it reads like a few distinct scenes that happen so far apart as to be almost disconnected.  (I re-read it to make sure).

The story begins with a boy in a village in India.  He is sick and his mother knows how to help him with this not uncommon rural disease.  He watches the village as he lays there, more or less immobile–how the women seem to do a lot of work, although his mother doesn’t work outside the house.  Eventually his father returns from the city where he is a successful cook.  The boy’s mother asks if the whole family can move to the city.  He balks at the idea–he spends several month sat a time in the city where he makes good money, although he claims it is not enough for a family to live on in the city. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-Voyageur (2012).

This is Kathleen Edwards’ latest album.  And every time I listen to it, it gets better.  Her songwriting has reached amazing heights.  The lyrics are wonderful and the melodies are just outstanding.  “Empty Threat” (“I’m moving to America…it’s an empty threat), opens the disc with a bouncy acoustic guitar and, eventually, a full band.  The lyrics for “Chameleon/Comedian” are wonderful: the juxtaposition between these two ideas is just amazing—each verse gets more complex.  I would quote them, but the whole song is great.  And, amazingly, the “I don’t need a punchline” is easy to sing along to as well.  “Soft Place to Land” is a nice ballad—a full band that never gets overwhelmed by any of the instruments—the violin adds a nice texture as do the military drums mid way through.  “Change the Sheets” is one of my favorite songs of the year.  It starts out slow, with simple guitars and more great lyrics.  As it builds (of course it builds) it grows into an amazing bridge/chorus that just dares you not to tap your feet.

“House Full of Empty Rooms” is like a minor palate cleanser before “Mint.”  “Mint” opens like a classic 70s rock song (Bad Company or Tom Petty), but she brings in her unique voice and phrasings and changes the song into something very different.  But again, that chorus–how can you not sing along to the catchy/voice-breaking chorus after the minor key verses?  The tension builds wonderfully.  “Sidecars” is a fun poppy track (“You and I will be sidecars, we chase down the hard stuff”).

“Pink Champagne” is a five-minute piano ballad.  It’s more akin to her earlier more country songs.  It’s a wee bit long but never overstays itself.  It’s followed by “Going to Hell,” which features some great screaming guitars in the midst of more delicate singing.  “For the Record” closes the album with a seven minute slow burner.  It begins quietly, and builds and builds–never the ecstatic heights–but with a chorus that is as catchy as it is mournful.

I have this CD in my car and every time it comes up, i just can’t stop listening.

[READ: June 18,2012] I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth

I received this limited (autographed!) chapbook from The Walrus when I re-subscribed recently.  That’s pretty cool.  It has been sitting around because I thought it was a much longer piece.  When I received the latest issue of The Walrus, and saw that the same story was in there, well, I realized that this was just a short story and could be polished off pretty quickly.  The issue of The Walrus also told me that this story is a kind of follow-up to The Robber Bride.

I have never read The Robber Bride (I like Atwood quite a lot and yet have never read her most iconic books!).  So I would never have known that this was a sequel (of sorts).  As I said, I don’t know The Robber Bride, (and hope to read it maybe this year).  I don’t know exactly how it ties to the novel (the first line of the Wikipedia entry tells me that the three main characters are the same), and given the tone of the story, I assume it is simply catching up on them some twenty-five years later.

In this story, Claris, Tony and Roz (who are all women, I didn’t realize that right away) are going for their weekly walk in the woods together (because it’s good for you and Roz hopes to increase their cellular autophagic rates).  Tony and Roz bought (from a shelter) a dog for Claris called Ouida.  Ouida is a wild terrier mix (who hops on Roz’s orange coat and leaves footprints).

It quickly becomes apparent that Claris is something of a hippy—organic, vegetarian, communing with spirits and whatnot.  Claris just had a dream about Zenia.  Zenia (who I assume is in The Robber Bride, because why wouldn’t she be), was a woman from their past.  She stole a man from each one of them—with varying outcomes in each woman’s case.  Zenia died about twenty years ago but she has come back, Claris believes, to tell her about Billy. (more…)

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