There's just enough country here to have you squeezing your thumbs through your belt...
Darren Overs Pearson 2005-02-28
Back To Me is the second album from this 26 year-old Ottawa born singer/songwriter. Her first album Failer caused quite a rumpus and led to her opening for the likes of Bob Dylan and The Stones. 200 live dates and two years down the line, she's back in the studio, keen as mustard and not a little jaded.
Let's put to one side the second album syndrome. Since I don't know the first album, I can be unprejudiced; at least on that count.
Now we can deal with the Canada issue. On the one hand you have Celine Dion and Bryan Adams, on the other Neil Young and The Band. Can the chasm ever be bridged? Perhaps not, but Kathleen Edwards is hitching-up alongside the good guys with a white horse and Stetson (not the country 'ten gallon' variety). There's just enough country here to have you squeezing your thumbs through your belt loops, but you can leave your boots under the bed.
Back To Me is a strong album with some standout songs. The band keep it tight and the vocals are nearly always in the pocket. However, the arrangements are very conservative throughout and, like the production, just a little too slick. Everything is very tasteful and knows its place;nothing's going to jump out and bite you in the ass. Of course, for most in the States this is an accolade, but I find myself drifting off halfway through. Unfortunately, the title track "Back To Me" suffers from this malaise, as does Jim Bryson's song "Summer Long".
But enough of this backbiting; let's take a lungful of that clean Canadian air. Ms Edwards is a talented songwriter with a voice to match. She surely hits the spot with "Away", summing up the record's theme of yearning for home and absent friends. On "In State" she gives a hardnosed account of a tragic Jim Thompson-esque character and, like "What Are you Waiting For", it has a driving beat that's going to make you wind down the windows and crank up the stereo.