Breakups, be it a marriage or love affair, can be plenty painful. From the songwriting perspective, they have fueled the muse of many a lyricist. On Voyageur from the Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards, the breakup of her own marriage provides ample fuel for the potent set of songs comprising the album. Edwards' songs are not about dwelling on the past and miring in one's sorrow. On the contrary, they are more about reflection. She lets her emotions flow on selected numbers reflecting with an insightful eye on various moments from her betrothal ("Pink Champagne") up to the split ("House Full of Empty Rooms"). She gets downright snarly on numbers like "Change the Sheets" and "Going to Hell," before closing it all out with a few numbers that read more like a springboard for starting anew. For this fourth longplayer, Edwards enlisted both the artistic and production services of Bon Iver front man (and current companion) Justin Vernon. In addition to his occasional ethereal harmonizing, Vernon helps give Voyageur a rich, sonic palate beyond that of any of Edwards previous and more Americana-laden soundscapes. It proves a winning combination. Visit www.rounder.com.
John Paul Keith
The Man That Time Forgot
Big Legal Mess Records
Influences are plenty and the energy high on the solo debut called The Man That Time Forgot from Memphis-based artist John Paul Keith. The Knoxville native began his career as a member of roots rock band The V-Roys before tiring of the direction of the band and making his break. He spent some time in Nashville before eventually landing in Memphis and recharged his career with a band he founded called The One Four Fives who released a solid rock & roll record in 2009 called Spills & Thrills. Whereas The Man That Time Forgot possesses that same spirit, Keith broadens his sound drawing on a myriad of styles from Tex-Mex to garage rock to countrypolitan to 60′s soul/pop, rockabilly and even jazz-blues, and does it all quite well on this highly listenable outing. Visit www.biglegalmessrecords.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.)