Edwards Is 'Back' With New Album

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

On her sophomore album "Back to Me," 26-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards boldly declares her prowess at seduction.

On the title track, she warns, "I've got ways to make you sing my songs/Ones I ain't written yet/I've got lights you've never seen/I've got moves I've never used/I've got ways to make you come/Back to me."

It'll be hard, in fact, to resist the infectious "Back to Me," out March 1 on Zoe/Rounder Records in the United States and on MapleMusic Recordings in Canada. The album will be issued via Rounder March 7 in Europe and Australia.

"Kathleen has made a brilliant record," Rounder GM Paul Foley says. "The challenge now is to widen her audience."

Edwards' country-tinged debut, "Failer," was issued by MapleMusic in September 2002 in Canada and by Rounder in January 2003 in the United States. Featuring such striking songs as "Six O'Clock News" and "Hockey Skates," it created a critical buzz. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has scanned 76,000 units in the United States and 20,000 in Canada.

"Failer" was made with few expectations. It started as an indie project in 2000 after Edwards moved to a farmhouse near Wakefield, Quebec, and enlisted friends to help her record the album. She independently released it a year prior to MapleMusic putting it out.

Edwards never imagined she would perform 200 shows in 18 months in North America and Europe supporting the album; open for Bob Dylan, Nickel Creek and Guster; or appear on "Late Night With David Letterman." Or that she would perform at last summer's Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto concert alongside the Rolling Stones and AC/DC, an event that drew nearly half a million fans.

"My objective with 'Failer' was to play a couple of folk festivals and get a booking agent," she recalls.

"Failer" received modest U.S. radio airplay, but several American retailers championed it, particularly Borders Books & Music and Barnes & Noble.

Radio now shows signs of embracing Edwards. Rounder has already snagged significant U.S. airplay for the new album's title track on triple-A stations, while Toronto-based MapleMusic has serviced the title track to country, adult top 40 and rock stations in Canada, providing each genre with its own mix.

Edwards, who penned the cheeky "One More Song That Radio Won't Like" on her debut, remains unsure that Canadian radio will embrace her. "I'm not going to hold my breath," she says. "Why don't we have triple-A radio in Canada? Look at how many people go to folk festivals."

She adds, "Frankly, I canceled a show in Toronto last year because nobody bought tickets. I want to play in Canada, but I play to twice as many people in the United States."

Edwards will launch "Back to Me" with another "Letterman" appearance on the day of the album's release. In Canada, Bravo will on March 15 air her TV special "Live at the Rehearsal Hall." A March 17 showcase at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin will follow.

Edwards recently toured the United Kingdom and Ireland and will return for European dates in April followed by touring throughout North America.

"Back to Me" was recorded at Reaction Studio in Toronto with Edwards' touring band and her husband of six months, Colin Cripps, producing. Formerly of Crash Vegas, Cripps has co-writing credits with Edwards on "Back to Me" and "Summerlong."

"Colin knew where I wanted to go and how to make the album better than the last time," Edwards says.

While the album's selections are all stylistically different —- ranging from '60s folk rock to traditional country —- an overall theme of displacement is evident, especially on the wistful track "Away," which is about feeling road-weary from touring.

"I should have called the album 'I Miss Ottawa,'" jokes Edwards, the daughter of a Canadian diplomat who spent part of her teen years in Korea and Switzerland. "My childhood was filled with me wanting to be in one place and going out nightly with my buddies. I finally got that in Wakefield. Then I had the opportunity [as an artist] to do something I've always wanted to do. It made such a huge change in my life.

"Now I live in Toronto," she adds. "It doesn't really feel like home."

Excerpted from the Feb. 12, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.

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