Kathleen Edwards: Upbeat Angst
Onstage at the Birchmere on Friday night, Canadian singer Kathleen Edwards was quick to point out the Expos hat sported by her band mate Jim Bryson. With a nod to the Washington Nationals, she laughed and taunted good-naturedly, "Enjoy the continuous losing! Why the [bleep] do you think they left Montreal?"
Edwards's upbeat personality carried over into her songs, many of which were fast and bouncy, despite the often dark subject matter. Above a speedily strummed rhythm guitar, she sang about disappointment in a lover in "In State" and bemoaned her desperation in "What Are You Waiting For?" Even if the songs seemed happy musically, Edwards exuded heartache with a voice that was trapped somewhere between a growl and a whine. While she is vocally reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, Edwards is more rock than twang, and her saucy passion in "Back to Me" was beyond comparison.
Although most of her songs were based on power chords and plaintive vocals, Edwards's 90-minute set was far from monotonous. She enlivened her songs with surprises like a melancholy guitar melody in "Good Things" and the tender sweetness of "Old Time Sake." And when she blazed through a cover of "Harper Valley PTA," she paused just long enough to enjoy the playful lyrics, once again merging her fun-loving disposition with the energy in her music.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 16 May 2005