Live Wire Buzz: Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards couldn't find a place to buy body paint in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Having lived here for nine years, I would've been more surprised had she found some--we are, after all, a Moravian-rooted people, known more for our love of music and fellowship (and many-pointed stars and Christmas) than body paint. So her prank on opener Hannah Georgas, to commemorate their last show together following a 4-month run, didn't go quite as planned.

But the crowd at the Musikfest Cafe, part of the Arts Quest Center at Steel Stacks, didn't seem to mind in the least.

What worked to near-perfection, however, was Edwards herself. She and her band stopped in Bethlehem in support of her most recent release, Voyageur, her first collaboration with Bon Iver frontman, and boyfriend, Justin Vernon. Her seventeen song set included a sampling of tracks from across her discography, tilting ever-so-slightly, as expected, towards her latest release. Acknowledging that her life as of late has gone through some significant changes and that she's "not high on the happy meter some days," Edwards's set both bared those vulnerabilities and still-fresh wounds, as heard in "House Full of Empty Rooms" and "A Soft Place to Land," as well as displayed her determination to rock out her way through them. That she is a singer-songwriter who revels playing with her full band and feeds off their energy is plain to see--her interplay with both keys/guitarist Jim Bryson and guitarist Gord Tough made it feel as if you were lucky enough to catch three very talented musicians in their own jam session, especially on "Mint," "Goodnight, California," and "Change the Sheets," the first single from Voyageur. With her humor, emotion, and energy, Edwards's show is simply not to be missed.

If you haven't yet heard of Hannah Georgas, who was also part of Edwards's band for the evening on vocal harmony, you should take a listen to her appropriately titled album, This Is Good. I really enjoyed Georgas's sound--think Feist meets Sarah Harmer--along with her bandmate for the tour, Ted Gowans. It was a little unfortunate that there were some sound issues, as I think that made Georgas a bit more restrained vocally and instrumentally than she otherwise would have been on songs like "Chit Chat," "The Deep End," and "Fantasize." From what I saw and heard, Georgas plays a mean electric guitar and has a vocal styling that can (and should be, in my opinion) heard as big as someone like Florence Welch. Be on the lookout--Georgas has a new album forthcoming soon.

Kathleen Edwards's tour resumes in the U.S. in June, including some festival stops. Canadian dates that also include festival stops start up in July. You can find her tour schedule here: http://www.kathleenedwards.com/w.htm

Voyageur is available now.

Set List: Empty Threat; Mint; Asking for Flowers; House Full of Empty Rooms; Goodnight, California; Going to Hell; 12 Bellevue; Hockey Skates; Chameleon/Comedian; Six O'Clock News; Sidecars; Back To Me; A Soft Place to Land; Change the Sheets // Encore: Pink Emerson Radio; In State; The Cheapest Key

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