Kathleen Edwards gets a little help from her friends
In case you haven’t noticed, Kathleen Edwards is one sassy lady. On Late Show With David Letterman a couple of months back, the Canuck roots-pop artist and her band played “Change the Sheets”—an ultra-catchy track off her new album Voyageur—and when they were done Letterman strolled onto the stage and raved about the performance. Then he joked around about how he’d like to go on tour with them—as long as they went to places he’d care to visit. That’s when Edwards stepped up to the mike and declared: “I am looking for a stylist, actually.”
“He still has not followed up on that promise, but whatever,” says Edwards, sounding slightly sassy when she calls in advance of her latest Vancouver gig. She’s phoning from the wilds of Wisconsin, which—as any die-hard horror fan knows—is the home state of Ed Gein, the notorious killer and grave robber whose gruesome exploits inspired numerous fright flicks. But Edwards—who isn’t a diehard horror fan—doesn’t quite get the connection.
“I like that when you think of Wisconsin you think of Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” she replies with a chuckle. “It’s actually full of pretty open-minded people and there’s a really wholesome and—oh, my God, I just saw a blue finch; it just flew right by—it’s incredibly progressive. Wisconsinites have this affinity for being really organic and natural in their approach to things, and also having really adventurous personalities.”
One native of the “Forward” state who has definitely impressed Edwards is her current sweetheart, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who coproduced Voyageur with her in Toronto and nearby his home, in Fall Creek, Wisconsin.
“He’s really diverse in his ability to hear stuff and work on ideas without any sort of ulterior motive,” she explains, “and he’s just an incredible listener. He has a real instinct for working with sounds, but he also can go in and play an incredible guitar solo.”
Vernon played guitar on four Voyageur tracks, and also handled bass, drums, vibraphone, banjo, organ, synth, and backing vocals. A myriad of guests contributed to the album, including Norah Jones, Francis and the Lights, Stornoway, Phil Cook (Megafaun), Sean Carey (Bon Iver), Afie Jurvanan (Bahamas), and Brian Moen (Peter Wolf Crier).
“I’m a pretty lucky person to have amazing friends and people who want to come play,” notes Edwards. “Sean Carey and Phil Cook are among the people who contributed so significantly to this record, and it’s really nice—a year and a half later—to feel like they’ve become good friends.”
Before she signs off from the land of blue finches and body snatchers, Edwards is asked how she finds the live audiences in Vancouver compared to those in her Hogtown home base, and that’s when her sass meter goes off the scale.
“They’re a buncha assholes,” she says, before quickly adding, “They’re great. I love Vancouver a lot. I wish Toronto and Vancouver weren’t so far apart, because our arts communities would really benefit from being closer to one another.”
That’s true, I suppose. But could we handle that massive influx of sass?
Kathleen Edwards plays the Commodore Ballroom on Friday (April 6).