Kathleen Edwards Failer

This is the little record that could, and the best news to come out of the Ottawa area since the Canadian flag. Sounding every bit as world-weary as a spry Lucinda Williams, without having quite lost the innocence of her youth, Failer bursts out of the gates with a folk-ish twist on alt-country, packed with solid songs that are pumped with hooks, expertly played and highly addictive. Torn between being the sensitive singer/songwriter, but savvy enough to immerse herself within the power of a fully supportive band, 24-year-old Edwards is a best kept secret that is about to erupt south of the border (thanks to Zoe Records), and for good reason. A highly personal record, Failer is careful to not succumb to the age-old curse of taking itself too seriously. The ten tracks feature arrangements that are highly inventive and complementary to Edwards’ lazy drone of a voice, which fully simulates the exotic equivalent of "bedroom eyes.” In concert, these compositions take on a surprisingly rocking consistency that demonstrates their considerable shelf life, even as they underline Edwards’ serious potential and ability to do it all. The album’s most distinctive track is "12 Bellevue,” blending banjo, an odd twist of baritone and soprano sax, with Jim Bryson tearing off serious strips of lead guitar while Edwards purrs knowingly over the top. Rich in single-worthy tracks ("Six O’Clock News,” "One More Song The Radio Won’ t Like”), Edwards is one to watch, and definitely one to listen to. (Universal)