Review: Kathleen Edwards – Ruby Lounge, Manchester

On a slow and steady Sunday, the sounds of Kathleen Edwards were our entertainment for the evening, as she strummed her guitar and sang her words angelically to the good people of Manchester.

Edwards is certainly a woman of confidence and drive, with a rocky attitude that perfectly compliments her Americana-pop tracks such as new album and set opener, Empty Threat. Dressed-down in a hooded plaid top, she tossed her fiery-red hair and guitar from side to side as she swaggered around the small stage at The Ruby Lounge, looking comfortable and excited to be up there alongside her band of 5, including support act Hannah Georgas. Exchanging a couple of words with a slightly older crowd than one predicted, the Canadian-born Edwards displayed her loveable, yet assertive personality throughout, and it was a pleasure to witness this throughout her bolder performances, such as Change The Sheets and 2003’s 12 Bellevue. 

Nonetheless, though her recently-released album Voyageur is nothing short of beautiful, it plays home to a number of heartbreaking and deeply personal songs, many of which are closely related to her recent divorce with long-time collaborator Colin Cripps. Despite her on stage vigour and spirit, Edwards’ set was equally embodied with these very open, honest and clearly still painful tracks. It became apparent throughout her performances of Pink Champagne, Going To Hell and A Soft Place To Land that Kathleen is still very closely-connected to the lyrics of these songs, and her initial strong and assured presence was swiftly altered as she fidgeted with her hands, sang towards the ceiling and looked deeply emotional throughout. During House Full Of Empty Of Empty Rooms, tears swelled in her eyes and one could not help but be drawn into her sorrowful story of owning and loving a home, before realising that at the end of it all, a house is just a house. The only light moment came when she admitted to dribbling throughout her performance of the track!

What one cannot stress harder, however, is the beauty of these words and songs. Her flawless backing band perfected the atmosphere created on all four of Edwards’ records, whilst Hannah Georgas, having given us a lovely solo performance as support, helped create some stunning harmonies with Edwards throughout. It was a superb set to end the week on a high and though we unfortunately had to miss the encore due to pretty limited trains home on a Sunday evening, Edwards had already assured us that she is extremely worthy of the praise and recognition that she is finally receiving here in the UK, after 12 years on the road.