Zoe / Rounder
Let’s just get this out of the way: Kathleen Edwards is dating Justin Vernon. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything about this album or Edwards’ music, except that it does, and this album makes a little more sense knowing it. Vernon co-produced this, so it’s not like he’s JUST a boyfriend. He’s definitely in this. Still, Edwards holds her own—she sounds strong—she sounds like she could be going at just about everything alone. One of those people you admire for their ability to drive it home: listen to “Chameleon/Comedian.” You totally believe her when she says, I don’t need a punch line. It’s got a lot more classic pop than Bon Iver does; where Vernon tends to experiment—play around with suspending single sounds—Edwards seems to expand sounds. This is warm and familiar. Almost country-rock, but with more guitar (and piano) and less twang. You can’t help but notice that “A Soft Place to Land,” brings the same pangs of emotion that Bon Iver can. The same sort of distorted echo and marching urgency. It’s always impressive when an artist can compile an album of songs that fit together so well without a lot of repetition.
Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.