Failer

Failer

4.5 4
by Kathleen Edwards
     
 

Newcomer Kathleen Edwards makes a startling debut with Failer, which suggests an electric fusion of Whiskeytown's ringing guitars, Lucinda Williams's breathy, melancholy delivery, and fellow Canadian Neil Young's raspy, earthy tone. These sources ably serve Edwards's vivid narratives, which are given added resonance by the disc's atmospheric, filmSee more details below

Overview

Newcomer Kathleen Edwards makes a startling debut with Failer, which suggests an electric fusion of Whiskeytown's ringing guitars, Lucinda Williams's breathy, melancholy delivery, and fellow Canadian Neil Young's raspy, earthy tone. These sources ably serve Edwards's vivid narratives, which are given added resonance by the disc's atmospheric, film noir–like arrangements. If Failer's ambience is somewhat sinister, however, it's only amplified by the subject matter: The hard-driving "Six O'Clock News" finds the narrator pleading with her deranged companion, by whom she's pregnant, to give up his standoff with the police; typical of these songs, though, he winds up "lying dead on the street," leaving his paramour to lament, "And I can't feel my broken heart." The gentle, acoustic-driven folk-rock of "Hockey Skates" frames a tale of terminal frustration over a self-absorbed boyfriend ("Do you wish your nose was longer/So you'd have an excuse not to see past it"), its choruses rising ominously on a rush of strings. "Westby" finds a furious Edwards almost screaming invective, à la Ani DiFranco, at an older, married lover, her anger mirrored by a tangle of acoustic and electric guitars. The foreboding string arrangements and subdued shuffle of "National Steel" lend a Beatlesque grandeur to an elliptical recounting of emotional disconnects. There's nothing easy about these songs -- Edwards is as hard on herself as she is on others -- and there's nothing predictable about the music supporting the stories. Edwards takes her cue from the Beat writers, finding humanity not in good deeds but in extreme behavior propelled by vulnerability, irrationality, and the desires of the flesh. That's a pretty good place to start.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jason MacNeil
Teeming with roots and with alternative country oozing from every note, Kathleen Edwards could easily be compared to fellow Canadian Sarah Harmer, but there is a natural difference in their approaches. With songs such as "One More Song the Radio Won't Like," the singer tends to stand outside the conventional box, but her voice easily recalls Lucinda Williams at her most vulnerable. "I'm so tired of playing defense/And I don't even have hockey skates," she sings during "Hockey Skates," which straddles the country/pop line to perfection. "The Lone Wolf" is another strong nugget, demonstrating an earthy, Neil Young quality. There is also an adventurous side to the album, with saxophones and an edgier, tougher sound on "12 Bellvue." Possessing a lyrical cynicism far beyond her tender 23 years, Edwards seems best at her most melancholic, particularly during "National Steel" and relating the problems of addiction in "Mercury." But the prettiest number is the closing "Sweet Lil' Duck," whose overtones evoke "Here Comes a Regular" from the Replacements. Far from a failure, Failer is as gorgeous as it is flawless.
Rolling Stone - Anthony DeCurtis
Instantly accessible yet complex enough to sustain interest, this album establishes Edwards as someone to watch.... Failer is a winner.
Spin Magazine
She could be major. (B+)
Blender - Ann Powers
Edwards's songs have an indefinable pull that makes you love the characters they describe, no matter how f--ked-up they are.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/14/2003
Label:
Zoe Records
UPC:
0601143103520
catalogNumber:
431035
Rank:
146077

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kathleen Edwards   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Strings,Vocals
Dave Dudley   Drums
Jim Bryson   Banjo,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Dave Draves   Organ,Piano,Drums,Vibes
Maury LaFoy   Piano
Peter Von Althen   Percussion,Drums
Joel Anderson   Percussion,Drums
Petr Cancura   Baritone Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Fred Guignon   Slide Guitar,national steel guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Kevin McCarragher   Bass
Blair Phillips   Alto Saxophone
Tom Thompson   Pedal Steel Guitar

Technical Credits

Greg Calbi   Mastering
Dave Draves   Producer,Engineer,Feedback
Jack D. Elliot   Engineer
Kathleen Edwards   Producer

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