Saturday, June 9, 2007

Kathleen Edwards at WestFest

Kathleen Edwards, a darling of the Canadian folk music scene, returned home for a concert at WestFest, one of Ottawa's newest outdoor music festivals, earlier tonight. WestFest is free and very accessible, which makes it a great venue to check out the all-Ottawa lineup, of which Edwards is definitely a highlight.

Her show was a bit uneven, but overall her peformance was energetic. Luckily for her, she had Jim Bryson backing her up, and when the two combined to sing on a few tracks, the results were beautiful. One could easily tell that both Edwards and Bryson grew up playing the Ottawa scene together, they were near flawless. For example, at one point Edwards berated Bryson for not using his electric guitar to its fullest capacity, so he proceeded to strum the power chords to AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," but Edwards didn't miss a beat, as she plowed through the first two verses and chorus, before Bryson put the brief improv to an end. This was a nice little touch to an already enjoyable evening outside.

The major problem with the show was the sound, especially at the beginning. There was too much feedback coming from the lead guitar player, and this drowned out Edwards' voice somewhat. Also, Edwards can't always pull off the 'girl with a guitar' bit, she'd be well-served by aiming for a bit of a bigger sound.

Having said that, I found myself deeply involved in her lyrics on a number of occasions, especially on her new track "Bring me Flowers." Her strength lies in her stage presence, she's funny and witty, and in her songwriting, which is deep and sorrowful. She's definitely worth seeing again, maybe in a smaller, more intimate venue, even though I'm quite sure Edwards would disagree.