Image by: Album Cover Art
Album Reviews

Album Review: Kathleen Edwards - Total Freedom (Dualtone)

Roger Bowie

Kathleen Edwards became a success story in 2002, in an outsider kind of way, and in  a time when record company contracts didn’t have a single clause pertaining to “digital”. (See, the good old days weren’t that long ago..)

By the time her fourth album came out in 2012 she was starting to be a part of the establishment, or more of an insider, reaching a mainstream audience. But all was not well.

Around six years ago she realised she didn’t want to do music anymore. A failed marriage, the unexpected pain of a divorce process, and an unhappy bounce back relationship all took its toll, and with hindsight she was clinically depressed. So, the standing joke about starting a café called Quitters became the thing on her to do list that she decided not to erase. Everything else got the rubber.

And so, she quit for Quitters. And discovered the all-consuming nature of a start-up business, the incredible commitment required, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Not unlike being in the music business, but without the pressure on ego which nags away, without the fear of failure in a public place, without the paradox of success.

Sometimes people would travel miles to her café to pay homage, which she shrugged off to her staff as something a little weird. She now wore the 'big girl pants' of a business owner, with responsibilities to others, and a different creative environment which allowed others to thrive and self-express.

But she kept her Options Open, until one day Maren Morris (one of The Highwomen, and a huge fan)) called to ask her to do a co-write. That experience awoke the dormant muse, and aroused the urge to play. And so she found herself without callouses on her fingers, without songs, but with an uncluttered mind and the discipline to sit down and create. Total freedom.

Total Freedom is the title of her new album, out today on Dualtone, a free and exhilarating  collection of songs which express joyful reflections, perspectives and gratitude. For everything. But especially for the experience of giving it all up. To come back better, fresher, without ego. Without constraint. No longer A Fool's Ride

Inspired by Bob Seger’s Against the Wind, she wanted her songs to come across as effortless, and that feeling comes across right from the opening bars of Glenfern, a song about her former husband, and a song of gratitude, not “take that”. Jim Bryson’s flowing guitar and country riffs sounding, well…effortless as well as uplifting. Birds on a Feeder conveys the magical feeling of total freedom and when it comes to love she prefers the Simple Math of being best friends forever. There’s a doggy song about whisky and a stray, and the mutual effort which begs the question Who Rescued Who. And while it’s all not sweetness and light (Hard on Everyone, Feelings Fade), the overall objective is unquestionably met: effortless gratitude expressed in song. Effortlessly.

This is a beautiful album, a most successful return.

Welcome back, Kathleen Edwards,  you have earned your Total Freedom. (Don’t squander it is I guess in parentheses). 

Get your Total Freedom here.

Written By: Roger Bowie Roger Bowie has been collecting music since 1964, starting with 45 rpm singles, and then building an LP and CD collection from 1970. 1.8 per week since then. Not a vast collection, but eclectic and occasionally obscure. Roger is a big Americana fan, and regularly attends AmericanaFest in Nashville, held every September. Also, he once played golf with Alice Cooper...