Kathleen Edwards

Happy New Year! In an auspicious start to 2009, I had one of my old musical wishes granted, that is, sharing with you all a free MP3 from Kathleen Edwards. Not exactly new to the scene, this Canadian country crooner’s 2003 debut Failer had some of my all time favorite lines (“Wanna go get high? / The Mercury is parked outside under the lights”). She’s been pretty quiet since the mid-point of the decade, with Asking for Flowers coming after a three year break. The title track, available here, offers a perfect glimpse of what she has to offer — smooth and subtle vocals, an easy roots foundation, lyrics that offer a deeply personal narrative. And for this Midwesterner, something much better than watching Big 10 football teams getting creamed in the Cali sunshine.

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Martha Wainwright

The Wainwrights are the most prolific multi-generational musical family this side of the Carters and the Guthries. And those families never made their own travails quite so voyeuristic: listening to the Wainwrights is a bit like watching a whole season of Six Feet Under in one sitting. Martha’s brother is Rufus, her father is Loudon III, her mother and aunt are Kate and Anna McGarrigle. You can hear the family resemblance in Martha’s sweet supper club number “How Soon” — Martha’s melancholy is almost uplifting. But the languid, atmospheric hum of “I Will Internalize” is proof of a student who has moved beyond simply parroting her teachers. And “BMFA,” whose acronym of a title we’ll let you figure out for yourself (and which she’s dedicated to her father in concert), is the most alluring piece of profanity since Liz Phair traded in her diary for a gold lamé tube top and designer jeans. Let’s hope Martha keeps her current pants on.

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