Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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KATHLEEN EDWARDS
Asking for Flowers
ZoŽ/Rounder

Folk-circuit fave draws out her songs until they have stretch marks

Kathleen Edwards is an Ottawa singer-songwriter with a tough-minded lyrical flair, a reliable melodic knack and a smoky folkie voice alluring enough to take her just so far and no further. The title chorus on her third and best album shows off all three gifts: "Asking for flowers/Is like asking you to be nice/Don't tell me you're too tired/For 10 years I been working nights." Backed by Sheryl Crow guitarist Greg Leisz and Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench, it's killer, but built of such familiar musical materials that when it comes around the third time, it's plumb tuckered out. The track is one of three standouts that run over five minutes, and all three are too long. Edwards's niche market will never force her to break this habit. Too bad the rest of the world won't ever hear "The Cheapest Key," the strongest (and fastest) thing here, at a totally satisfying 2:42.

Blender, Apr. 2008