Kathleen Edwards The Drake Hotel, Toronto ON April 27

Kathleen Edwards The Drake Hotel, Toronto ON April 27
When an artist of the stature of Kathleen Edwards takes on a three-night residency in a venue as intimate as the Drake, it's no surprise that it sells out. And her performance vividly demonstrated that the profile the roots-rock songstress enjoys is well-deserved.

The freewheeling show ranged from solo ballads and duets with guests Damhnait Doyle and Jim Cuddy, to spirited and sprawling workouts featuring Edwards's top-notch four-piece band. They included guitarists Gord Tough and Jim Bryson (who also chimed in on keyboards and harmony vocals) and bassist John Dinsmore, and Edwards proudly declared at one point "pretty fuckin' good band, eh."

The singer's no slouch as an instrumentalist either, playing guitar, piano, violin and harmonica during the set. There was the odd technical glitch and the Cuddy duet, Blue Rodeo's "Falling Down Blue," had to be restarted, but this mattered little. It was a mite surprising that she didn't acknowledge the crowd for the first four songs, but after that the floodgates of mischievous banter opened.

Edwards sprinkled a few new songs in with such favourites as "Asking for Flowers," "Six O'Clock News" and "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," reaffirming the quality of her songwriting. New tune "Pink Champagne" sounded especially promising, with lines like "in a dress to kill, a glass to fill."

She encored with the hauntingly graphic "Scared at Night," full of emotional power. For her second encore, Edwards again brought Cuddy onstage for a fine duet take on the classic "Help Me Make It Through the Night." Think a Canadiana equivalent of George and Tammy or Gram and Emmylou, and a sweet highlight of a special night.