Back to Me
The Ottawa singer/songwriter's second outing is a beaut. Rarely is a performer able to toss aside any notion of a sophomore slump as confidently and authoritatively as Edwards did on this great set of songs.
Edwards kicks off the album with the understated but distinctive lead guitar and keyboards of "In State." The "state" of the title is a state penitentiary. In a way, the song began as sort of a sequel to "Six O'Clock News" from her debut album. Edwards has said that she imagined what might have led up to the police standoff in "Six O'Clock News." The song tells of a troubled relationship between the narrator and her criminal significant other.
Says Edwards, "It's always been important to me that my records work as an album - that it isn't just a collection of songs, but something that creates a real, vivid, three-dimensional portrait." And vivid portraits she creates, frequently about people haunted by the past. "Keys on the hook by the door/For the truck sold years ago," she sings on the track "Pink Emerson Radio," a handy image for many of the characters populating Edwards' songs.
"Memory is a terrible thing/When you use it right," proclaim the lyrics to "Away," as Edwards ponders being far from home. "Old Time Sake" is a song about trying to rekindle a past flame, or at least re-experience the old embers.
Edwards is a huge fan of Tom Petty, and his influence on her style can be heard clearly on songs like "Independent Thief," which mixes a familiar sound to the slide guitar riffs, along with a low swirling organ and Edwards' distinctive phrasing, her delicately husky voice stretching her vowels sounds to great effect.
Her band keeps things sounding quite well-suited for the yearning and pained souls described in the lyrics. Particularly the slide guitar work of band member Colin Cripps—who also produced the album. The songs have varied instrumentation, from the light xylophone on "Old Time Sake" to the 4-piece horn section on "Somewhere Else."
As Edwards has stated, "People are getting tired of a lot of the safe, predictable, plastic music that has been shoved at them in recent years." Indeed, and Back to Me should be a smart, emotionally-charged antidote to plastic music.