Kathleen Edwards Voyageur

Kathleen Edwards Voyageur
Ottawa native Kathleen Edwards became Canada's alt-country darling on the strength of three rootsy, Americana-steeped albums. They landed her critical acclaim, mainstream attention and promised a budding career most singer-songwriters conjure up while working a dead-end day job. On her fourth album, however, Edwards blows up the sound fans are accustomed to in favour of something more in step with her current tastes. Voyageur isn't just a stylistic departure for Edwards, it's a change in lifestyle. Recently divorced, Edwards lets every open gash from that relational letdown seep into this record. Couple that with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) at the helm, infusing new ideas and sounds into Edwards's foundation, and suddenly Voyageur is much more than a pretty diary set to music ― it's a new benchmark for every songwriter to aspire to. "Sidecar" is the catchiest thing she's ever written; "Empty Threat," with its lush layers and perfectly placed keys, is one of the best opening tracks in recent years; and "Pink Champagne" displays Edwards's voice at its peak. Voyageur is a career-altering album, and the best of this young year. (Maple)