Review: Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

Four albums in, the musical world starts to take proper notice of Kathleen Edwards. And, yes, it’s probably due, in no small part, to the fact that Justin Vernon co-produced her new album Voyageur. It’s impeccably executed, carefully crafted and an effortless listen; it is in these elements of the record, not in the music itself, that Vernon’s influence comes across. This isn’t Bon Iver by a girl. You can actually tell what she’s saying and everything.  So…done.

Ten years of industry experience makes for a maturity and a confidence which comes across from the first track. The oft-explored Edwards themes of longing, changing and emptiness are still prevalent; moving to America in the opening song is immediately undercut and exposed as an ‘Empty Threat’, her changing lover mirrors her changing self in Chameleon Comedian, and she searches for somewhere warm and welcoming to rest in A Soft Place to Land.

In House Full of Empty Rooms, the song’s achingly beautiful harmonies and melodic simplicity ease the listener into what continues to be an album of consistently superior quality. From the delicate, pure and addictive For the Record to the Aimee Mann-esque Mint, Edwards experiments with sounds and genres whilst maintaining the musical identity which she formed over her first three albums and a decade on the road.

I am about to contradict myself.

 On a first listen, it doesn’t necessarily feel like an album that’s going to make you love it. It doesn’t grab you by the heart, throw it in the fire, eat it, stamp on it, and then hand it back to you and say, ‘Hey, don’t you feel better now you’ve purged all of your insecurities and fear of remaining unloved for the rest of your days?’ It’s a grower. Pleasant at first, if monotonous at times, and truly brilliant after a few listens. It doesn’t think too much of itself, it’s not trying to out-cool anybody. It’s just honest, well-written and well done.

Change the Sheets has become a firm favourite of mine which even makes me smile when I’m on the bus to work. That’s saying something.

Anna Byrne