NPR's The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 - Rated 44/50!
In the late aughts, Kathleen Edwards' career was on the rise and her four studio albums had received critical acclaim; she garnered Polaris Prize nominations, a SOCAN Songwriting prize win, and several Juno nominations. But amid this success she stepped back from the music industry and started a coffee shop outside of Ottawa called Quitters, a successful small business she ran for over a decade. Now, she's releasing album number five, just as a global pandemic has forced her to shut down the coffee shop and furlough the workers who became like family. Total Freedom, self-produced alongside Jim Bryson and Grammy winner Ian Fitchuk (Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris), opens a door to her view of life as it is now, with all its wonderful complications.
It's a joy just to hear her voice again.
These are unsparing accounts of tough subjects, but Edwards navigates each song with tenderness and humor, allowing her to tear apart old idioms or invent new ones.
the real magic here is Edwards' ability to tackle the heaviest of subjects head on, never shirking risk and accepting inevitable change. Total Freedom is worth the time and journey.
Scratch the surface of the catchy hooks and driving rhythms and you discover a softer, vulnerable underbelly. Seeds of lyrics about the most mundane of topics (birds on a feeder, the online street view of an old house) grow into living, breathing stories. And like the best short stories, Edwards' lyrics show you a glimpse of real lives; a vignette of a memory, the middle of the tale, and leave so much to the imagination - what else is going on in this person's world? That, in a nutshell, is the brilliance of Total Freedom - every day ordinariness extrapolated to its most beautiful, etherial state.
a welcome progress report from a musician who took the time she needed, and returns stronger and wiser than she was before, with a first-class collection of songs to prove it.
If Willie Nelson penned the ultimate road song, Kathleen Edwards may have achieved the opposite with her first album in eight years. Total Freedom is an unself-conscious look at the act of home-building, from the quiet joy to be found in the stillness of an early morning ('Birds on a Feeder') to the way exorcising a failed partnership colors memories of ordinary objects ('Fool's Ride'). The new perspective arrived courtesy of a 2014 career change from professional musician to coffee shop owner. Standing in one place for the first time in more than a decade, Edwards captures the thread of love that ties a life together - meeting strangers in a cafe, dogs found on the side of the road and aging childhood friendships - with a straightforward lyricism and guitars that sing but don't outshine the well-earned wisdom of her voice. If life in constant motion can blur the edges of understanding, Total Freedom is a testament to knowledge found after escaping inertia.
- Vinyl LP
- Mastered for vinyl by Greg Calibi at Sterling Sound
- Gatefold jacket
- Limited time free album download
- Hard On Everyone
- Birds On A Feeder
- Simple Math
- Options Open
- Feelings Fade
- Fools Ride
- Ashes To Ashes
- Who Rescued Who
- Take It With You When You Go