Lindsey Buckingham, Kathleen Edwards
Ottawa Folk Festival CUPE stage
Some people offer flowers or a bottle of wine as a gesture of thanks. Kathleen Edwards gave us her heart as part of a sublime concert at the Ottawa Folk Festival on Friday.
“I’m so appreciative of all the love and support my hometown as given me as I go out in the world,” said the red-haired beauty at one point, and you could tell she was genuinely grateful.
It’s a great album, shortlisted for the Polaris Prize and widely considered her best yet, but she admits it was difficult to expose so much of herself. To make things even more challenging, she was stressed and exhausted from a heavy tour schedule. And after she missed the birth of her niece earlier this year, she went into a funk, she said during a particularly candid part of Friday’s concert.
What helped her snap out of it, Edwards noted, was spending time with her family this summer at her parents’ country home near Perth. “This wonderful thing happened around the time of my birthday,” said the July baby, who is now 34. “The dark clouds parted.”
All of this emotion came out just before she sang one of her most powerful songs, Soft Place To Land, adding a lovely violin lament to the mix of band instruments.
Until then, Edwards hadn’t said much between songs, instead focusing on the performance, which was fantastic. Singing sweeter and stronger than ever, Edwards is also blessed with a band that allows her to blossom. Her bandmates include fellow Ottawan Jim Bryson on guitar and keyboards, Julie Fader on ethereal backing vocals and Gord Tough, who supplies those ripping guitar solos.
Edwards was performing before the night’s headliner, singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham who is best known for his work in Fleetwood Mac, an entity he described as the “big machine” during his show Friday night. However, the purpose of his current tour is to show off the “small machine” of his solo work. His most recent solo album, Seeds We Sow, came out last year.
“The big machine and the small machine have come to inform each other and find each other and balance each other, and would not exist without each other,” said the 62-year-old American musician, describing the solo experience as a “strange little experiment.”
For a solo performer, he had a huge sound, thanks to the pumped-up volume of his guitar, which at first threatened to drown out his voice. Once things were sorted, he sang well enough, but it was still his guitar work that dazzled, as he demonstrated his skill on a parade of six-stringed instruments, electric and acoustic. The concert drew from Buckingham’s solo repertoire, including songs like Cast Away Dreams and Bleed To Love Her, as well as the Mac catalogue. Next to the unfamiliar solo stuff, the Fleetwood Mac hits energized the crowd.
But that energy was built on Edwards’ performance earlier in the evening.
Wearing an eye-catching orange dress for the occasion, Edwards began her concert with a pair of songs from Voyageur. Mint and Empty Threat were followed by Asking For Flowers and Going To Hell before she went way back in her catalogue for an early breakthough, the melodic Six O’Clock News.
Spotting her old pal, producer Dave Draves, in the crowd, she commented that it had been 10 years since she recorded the track with him. “Dude, your kids are here. How f—-ed is that?” Edwards blurted, showing a glimpse of her still-feisty self. Another funny comment slipped out when she talked about her “bad boy” of a dress. “Now that I’m a single lady, it’s time to show a little leg,” Edwards cracked.
Other highlights included a soaring Change The Sheets and the soul-baring Chamelon/Comedian. In front of an audience of family and friends, Edwards showed she’s reached a new peak in her career. Judging by the applause, there isn’t a music fan in Ottawa who doesn’t feel proud of her.