Top 10 Albums of 2008: #4 Asking for Flowers by Kathleen Edwards

My first exposure to Kathleen Edwards’ 2008 effort, Asking for Flowers, came rather slowly. I heard most of the record one song at a time on her myspace page beginning roughly a month before the album’s release. Kathleen would put up a song… leave it up for a few hours… and then take it back down. Fans were tipped off in advance, but her record label was unaware of her charity.

My wife and I got the chance to talk to Kathleen when she stopped in Knoxville for a performance on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special a few weeks before the album’s proper release date. We mentioned to her that we were enjoying the songs she had shared on the internet. She told us that she had wanted to share some music with the fans to give them a little taste of the album, but she wasn’t telling her label reps what she was doing because she, “didn’t want them to get their panties in a twist.”

And that’s why I love Kathleen Edwards.

She’s brash. She’s crass. She’ll drink you under the table. She has a mouth that would make a sailor blush. This is a woman who publishes her music under the Potty Mouth label. The sweetest love song she’s ever written appears on this album. It’s a tender, sincere, acoustic ballad called “Sure as Shit.” She’s anything but dainty and demure. It’s a big part of her charm.

Of course, the other part is her music. On this, her third album, the music sounds better than ever, even though she doesn’t really do anything new musically. Kathleen still wears her Tom Petty and Neil Young influences proudly on her sleeve as she plows through the album’s eleven tracks along with guitarist/husband Colin Cripps and keyboardist/guitarist/friend Jim Bryson along for the ride.

The biggest difference here, and the thing that puts this album over the top, is the emotional depth and breadth of the songwriting. While she’s quick to remind us in “The Cheapest Key” that “F” is still her favorite letter, and her soft side can sometimes be hard to find… Kathleen knows how to convey emotions within her songs.

The title track is written from the perspective of a friend who is trapped in a less than ideal relationship. With every pill, every bill, every threat… you feel the pain of the song’s protagonist. Other songs tackle the subjects of war (“Oil Man’s War”), social injustice (“Oh Canada”), family and death (“Scared at Night”), and the true story of an murdured Canadian teenager (“Alicia Ross”). Each song packs a punch

I had the pleasure of seeing Kathleen Edwards perform twice this year. Once in a stripped down singer/songwriter set with Cripps on The Blue Plate Special and once with her full band at The Mercy Lounge in Nashville. In the quieter set at WDVX, it was the power of her words that drew me in (that was the first time I had really had a chance to listen to “Asking for Flowers” the song). In the more rocking, full-band set in Nashville, I was pinned to the wall by the power of the music.

This album captures both elements of Kathleen’s overall sound quite well.

Kathleen Edwards: The Cheapest Key (Buy Album)
Kathleen Edwards: Asking for Flowers (Buy Album)

3 Responses to “Top 10 Albums of 2008: #4 Asking for Flowers by Kathleen Edwards”

  1. Great album indeed. One thing that has me wondering though is….who is the song I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory aimed at?

  2. I loved this album, especially The Cheapest Key. I still laugh out loud when she she goes through the alphabet and gets to “F.” I’m an Edwards fan from way back in 2003 (Failer) and am accustomed to hearing her favorite word!

  3. The song is a good-natured jab at her friend and bandmate Jim Bryson.Marty McSorley actually appears in the video

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