|Kathleen Edwards. (QMI Agency)
TORONTO - “I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room,” said Toronto-based singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards about half-way through her much-anticipated show at the Phoenix on Saturday night.
No, not the news of music icon’s Whitney Houston’s death which had broken mere hours earlier.
Edwards, 33, instead was referring to the absence of her guitarist Jim Bryson who became a dad days earlier.
Turns out Edwards’ sister-in-law was also due for a c-section on Sunday morning and with Edwards due to fly out to L.A. at the same time to join beau and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, a four-time nominee at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, she was going to miss all the excitement.
“By the time I land - I’ll be an auntie,” said Edwards, just before launching into a beautiful solo acoustic version of Hockey Skates. “I hope it’s a girl.”
Certainly, Edwards is a good role model for the fairer sex given she has delivered her most accomplished and personal album yet with Voyageur, her fourth studio effort that came out Jan. 17 Co-produced by Vernon.
The record is largely about the end of her marriage last year to Hamilton musician and her onetime guitarist Colin Cripps on such songs as Chameleon/Comedian, Change The Sheets, and House Full of Empty Rooms.
And, there was a sense of fragility about Edwards on Saturday night as she forgot the lyrics to two songs and talked about the importance of having a home over the years.
“I haven’t even had anything to drink - maybe that’s the problem,” joked Edwards of her forgetfulness.
Still, her moxie and sense of humor prevailed along with that gorgeous voice over the course of an hour and 45 minutes as she performed all of Voyageur’s tracks along with older fan favourites like Goodnight California, In State, Back To Me and Six O’ Clock News.
She said that many people thought the new song, Pink Champagne, was about her marriage ending but clarified it really was about drinking too much “in Calgary and barfing all over the street.”
She also complained about playing her former hometown of Hamilton on Friday night and people calling the fire department because there was nowhere to sit at the venue.
“I’m like ‘F--- you,’” said Edwards.
Backed by a four-piece band along with opening act Hannah Georges on backing vocals (who joined her near the end of the show for a cover of Big Star’s September Gurls), Edwards veered back and forth between gentle, introspective folk - even wielding her fiddle for a few songs - and more rowdy and rollicking numbers.
Both kinds of tunes suited her and the fact that she could do both so well was a testament to her talent.
The crowd stood almost motionless for the entire show, except for breaking into a brief clapalong at one point, but there was a definite stillness throughout the audience.
Maybe Massey Hall would be a better fit next time?
Edwards has definitely graduated to the ranks of arists worthy of playing such an esteemed venue.
Asking For Flowers
House Full of Empty Rooms
Going To Hell
Back To Me
A Soft Place to Land
Change the Sheets
Six O’Clock News
For The Record