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The fourth album from Canadian alt-country first lady Kathleen Edwards finds her working with a broader musical itinerary. Edwards has always been critically well regarded, but it hasn’t necessarily translated into record sales. That should change with Voyageur. The apparent vision behind this album is to develop and refine her core sound while keeping things tight and to the point. It’s a progression that largely works.
Having Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon along as co-producer (and love interest) might do the trick in itself. But that would do a disservice to Edwards, who has consistently moved up the scale. Her 2008 release, Asking For Flowers, set a high-water mark, and Voyageur dodges comparisons by presenting the artist’s consistently literate songs in a new light. There are still guitar-led tracks, but Vernon has introduced real variety in his subtly layered approach to production and fresh instrumentation. Vocally, Edwards’ trademark drawl is softer and mellower.
On closing song “For The Record”, Edwards exorcizes past ghosts. “Hang me up on your cross,” she offers up, “for the record I only wanted to sing songs.” As if to demonstrate the point, this is the most expansive song on the album, though never losing a sense of restraint over its seven-minute duration. In all, this is an album that we’ll still be listening to come next December. — Consequence of Sound