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Kathleen Edwards

Voyageur – 2012 (Zoe/Rounder)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards made a few changes since her last album "Asking For Flowers" came out. For one, she is in a new working and personal relationship with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and for two, she's said this new album is her branching out from the "four-chord" singer-songwriter realm her first three records deliciously reeked of.

Thankfully, her new album might suffer from just one miscue, but one which could scare off some fans. The lead single, Change The Sheets is probably the weakest and slickest of the 10 songs presented on "Voyageur" and evokes images of her listening to too much Coldplay.

Regardless of that fourth track that might eventually grow on the listener, Edwards has also offered up some of her finest moments on the bulk of the record. The opening Empty Threat is a summery, chugging nugget as she sings about moving to America which sounds far less forced than the first single. From there, Edwards hits gold on the soft, alt-country hued Chameleon/Comedian that plods along with her pipes stealing the spotlight from start to finish.

If there's anything uniquely different it could be the small pop accents in parts which flesh out some songs. However these songs are great, particularly the tender, piano-propelled A Soft Place To Land that would tone a live show down quickly, but will end up being a highlight and its slow-building intensity that never quite breaks the surface. Just as precious is House Full Of Empty Rooms she counts in quietly and performs beautifully despite the song's practical, poignant content about a relationship at the end of its tether.

Other highlights includes the strutting, sultry Mint that conjures up a young Sheryl Crow circa her self-titled album with a '60s girl group flavoring for good measure. Yet, its that early singer-songwriter feel she mined so perfectly on "Failer" that makes the latter half of the record so brilliant and worthy, whether it's the heart-tugging Pink Champagne or on the deliberately-paced closer For The Record, which includes Norah Jones on backing vocals.

Singing that she only wanted to sing songs on the finale, Edwards has added another batch of timeless gems to her growing repertoire. On the whole don't let the lead single fool you because Kathleen Edwards ensures that "Voyageur" flows and sails simultaneously.