Total Freedom, huh? Well, fair enough — though I suspect Glutton For Punishment or Definition of Insanity might be equally appropriate handles for Kathleen Edwards’ long-awaited comeback disc, which arrives eight years after she fled the music business in tears to open a coffee shop. (I’m not kidding about the tears; when I interviewed her for 2012’s Voyageur, she got weepy more than once — and several other scribes I talked to had the same experience.) But whatever; it’s all water under the bridge now. And like countless fans of her straight-shooting personal lyrics and strummy, unfussy roots-rock, I’m just glad one of Canada’s finest singer-songwriters is making records again instead of slinging lattes. Even better: She seems transition effortlessly and seamlessly on this 10-song set, basically picking up right where she left off nearly a decade ago. If there’s any justice in the world, this time around she’ll get all the glory and rewards she’s had coming to her for far too long. Of course, we all know what doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is called. So maybe she should keep her hand in at the espresso machine just in case.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Kathleen Edwards will make her long-anticipated return to music with Total Freedom, her fifth studio album. Written and recorded in Canada and Nashville with longtime collaborator/guitarist Jim Bryson and Grammy-winning songwriter/producer Fitchuk, Total Freedom is both a return to form and a “hard reset,” one that empowered Edwards to write and perform entirely on her terms. “I didn’t want to write songs that were going to keep me in a dark place on stage every night,” she says. “I didn’t have to carry a lot of the pressure of whatever course I was on previously … There’s a pressure sometimes to keep that ball rolling, and that’s what was so freeing about stopping altogether. I have this whole other experience now that grounded me and helped me rebuild my relationship with myself, and writing music. I’m entirely in control and deciding what my course of action is … I finally had this exhale from a year that was really hard,” she says of the forces shaping Total Freedom. “I went through a scary experience, extricating myself from someone, and it was this wonderful moment of resilience when I finished the album. I am super resilient. I’m always finding ways to adjust what’s not working. I’m not gonna let someone take me down in the process. I think that calling [the record] Total Freedom was a reminder that I am a really strong person.”