New Blood

Sometime in the late 1990s, shortly after going on a ten-album buying spree whose haul proved spectacularly unsatisfying, I temporarily gave up on the music industry. I resigned myself to the idea that I would never again buy an album that I actually loved.

Lately, something has changed for the better. Maybe the specter of internet piracy has scared the industry into thinking that it should actually try, rather than just focus on moving product. Maybe my tastes have changed. Maybe I’ve just gotten smarter about where I choose to go looking.

Mike Doughty’s Haughty Melodic, released at the beginning of May, was a good start. Recently I’ve gone on a bit of a spree again, and the results have been much more gratifying this time around. The biggest gem in this haul is Kathleen Edwards, a plucky Canadian singer-songwriter who’s apparently categorized as “Alternative Country”. Her sweet-revenge single, “Back to Me”, was punchy enough to sell me on the album of the same title, her sophomore effort, after I’d heard it just once on the radio.

She’s got a simultaneously spare and unsparing way with a pen, and a smoky voice with which to expertly deliver the payload she’s crafted. As for the things she can do with a steel guitar, well, let’s just say that I could listen to the bridges of some of her songs for hours, and have.

Do you think that I’ve changed
I swear I never tried
Memory is a terrible thing
When you use it right

— “Away”

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