Kathleen Edwards. | Zoë.

With her impassioned rasp, Canada’s Kathleen Edwards fits neatly into the alt-country pigeonhole. But her striking debut album avoids predictable pleasures: Emotionally needy characters, angry at their own vulnerability, give Edwards’ songs the immediacy of a brilliant short story, from the woman with the older lover in “Westby” (“I don’t think your wife would like my friends”) to the small-town girl who observes, “I am so sick of consequence and the look on your face.” While Edwards’ raw delivery on “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like” echoes Neil Young, she already boasts a distinctive voice all her own.

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