Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Sheri Boggs


We're supposed to choose our music regardless of whatever images it's packaged with, but there's something about the cover of Kathleen Edwards' Failer that effortlessly captures everything this album is about. A big clumsy Chevy Suburban sits with its hood up on some godforsaken road -- the skies are overcast and the trees are leafless. The feeling is one of perpetual November and the godforsaken road could be in any godforsaken corner of Nebraska, Saskatchewan, Utah (or Eastern Washington for that matter). Futility and frustration are as common as barbed wire and wild grass; we're all familiar with moments of what Edwards describes as spending "half your life trying to turn the other half around."


Which is something the 24-year-old Ottawa native, despite her youth, seems well acquainted with. Prior to making this album, she was traveling from town to town, sleeping in her Suburban and living the life of a musical nomad. Her voice is soft yet husky -- calling up comparisons to Lucinda Williams and Neil Young -- and its aching timbre could come just as easily from crying all night as from smoking a pack of cigarettes while staring out at the horizon. Her lyrics are those of hard-won experience: at times as careless and willful as only the young get to be, at others as full of a world-weariness you don't often see outside of Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris.


It's interesting that Failer opens with "Six O'clock News." It's by far the bounciest and most radio-friendly track on the album, but it's also one of the most problematic. It's the best showcase for Edwards' affecting and poignant vocals, and I like the immediacy of a lyric like "Peter, sweet baby, where'd you get that gun?" As the first song on an alt-country recording, though, it doesn't cover much new ground -- its arrangements sound a lot like Rosanne Cash's 1981 hit "Seven Year Ache" and ends with a predictable "Leader of the Pack" finish. And while it's got more infectious hooks than a tackle box, it lacks the complexity and subtlety of the rest of the album.


It might have been better to kick off with the Cowboy Junkies-esque "Maria," or even with "Hockey Skates," a quiet reproach to the old boys' club mentality. But leave "National Steel," with its bittersweet fiddle and unflinchingly honest vocals, right where it is. For edging toward an ending, it has just the right kind of meditative, melancholy note.





Publication date: 04/10/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Clinton In Command
  • Clinton In Command

    While Obama and Trump may believe that American global leadership is over, Hillary Clinton sees things differently
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Debate Decorum
  • Debate Decorum

    Trail Mix: Trump's weighty attacks and Inslee/Bryant showdown
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Building on the Past
  • Building on the Past

    With dynamic new leadership, Coeur d'Alene is starting to make the dream of a high-tech economy come to life
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival

Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival @ Riverfront Park

Through Oct. 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Sheri Boggs

  • BOOKS
  • BOOKS

    From puppies to a new James Bond adventure, there are tons of great reads this season
    • Dec 3, 2015
  • Beer and Branding in PDX

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • Rural Revolution

    All the farms I remember from growing up in North Idaho and Eastern Washington were not what you'd call stylish. In fact, what I do remember are blocky sofas covered in that ubiquitous mauve upholstery, copper Jell-O molds lining the kitche
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


Briefs


trail mix


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Planning a Heist
  • Planning a Heist

    Believe what many Idaho legislators are saying: They want to turn our public lands private
    • May 26, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation