Kathleen Edwards Biography
Last updated: 05/23/2003 10:17:20 PM
The worst thing about being the 'It' girl is that you're worried tomorrow you're not going to be the 'It' girl," says Kathleen Edwards with her trademark honesty. "But if I play my cards right and set myself up to be able to do this for the next ten years then I think having momentum and keeping it will be possible."
If those words sound wise or painfully optimistic, that is because Edwards is both. The 23-year old Ottawa-native began writing songs only three years back, shortly after she graduated from high school. Her classical training as a violinist gave her the musical grounding she needed, while talent - and trusted peers among the Ottawa music scene - helped give shape to the material found on her debut album 'Failer'.
Edwards possesses a Lucinda Williams been-there-done-that vibe, yet she can pull out winsome pop just as easily. Like Williams, Edwards is unconventional in look and lifestyle and she's not about to sing like a bird. When Edwards hurts, she writes it down in a sad, brutal tone.
"'Failer' is a bunch of songs from a certain time in my life. Some of the stories are made-up but most of them are coming from my experience." After a relationship ended, Edwards moved out of Ottawa's downtown core and into the Quebec countryside where she started writing the songs that would appear on 'Failer'. Tobacco and alcohol flow liberally through this album. Edwards insists she is speaking only for herself and not for a generation, but her sentiments will resonate among the love-weary. 'Six O'clock News' details a lovers' violent end. '12 Bellevue' speaks of "drinking my way through today", and on the narcoleptic 'Mercury', Edwards woos someone with a little bit of pot.
"I can be pretty self-destructive," she admits. "I also think that at some point I can lift my head and say: 'I'm not going to be that way anymore.'" "You'd be surprised at how many people come from the same place or feel the same way," she says of response to her music."
In the fall of 2000 Edwards had enough material and money to go into Little Bullhorn studios with Dave Draves. Seven months later, she had a CD and her reputation began to move beyond Ottawa. Perhaps Edwards' greatest champion has always been fellow alt-country rocker Jim Bryson. The two perform together frequently and Bryson guests on 'Failer'. By the end of 2001, Edwards had signed on with singer Sarah Harmer's management.
"When Edwards gives a free showcase event in Toronto, it is filled with curious label folks and well-wishers, at one point she calls out a request for beer and whiskey and it's hard not to hear the ironic line from 'One More Song the Radio Won't Like': "No one likes a girl who won't sober up." Moments later drinks arrive for her and the band."
If some have asked how she garnered such buzz so quickly, Edwards doesn't get fazed. "It's not like I've had any place to come from," she says. "This is my first record so I haven't really come from anywhere."
Her frankness is refreshing and I think back to a line from 'Hockey Skates.' Edwards sings: "Do you think your boys' club will crumble just because of a loud-mouthed girl?" Apparently she's apologizing to an oversensitive musician friend, but for this kindred spirit, it's all about the futility in speaking your mind. When asked if she is a 'loud-mouthed girl', Edwards gets, for the first time, a little embarrassed. "Yes, I can be ..." she says. "When I'm home, I keep to myself. I live in the countryside. But when I go out, I like to have a good time. Yeah, I can be a bit of a loudmouth. I can say things that I regret. Come to think of it, that's a bit of a daily occurrence for me."