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Kathleen Edwards' 'Asking for Flowers' snaps the heartstrings

Kathleen Edwards

Album: Asking for Flowers (Zoe)

In stores: Now

Why we care: We love getting musical crushes, when we can't wait to devour an album again and again. So please meet Canadian folk-rocker Kathleen Edwards, a 29-year-old daughter of diplomats who sounds a little like Nanci Griffith fronting a Springsteen cover band. We're totally smitten.

Why we like it: You have to be pretty cool to reference both hockey great Marty McSorley and CCR star John Fogerty on the same track — and make it work. But Edwards rocks like a pro, weaving her blue-collar kissoffs with heart-packed hooks and a novelist's ear for modern language and lyrical snap.

Reminds us of: The breakout songstress of '08

Download these: The Cheapest Key and Asking for Flowers

Grade: A

Alan Jackson

Album: Good Time (Arista Nashville)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Neo-trad hat act AJ forgoes the singer-for-hire schtick and pens all of his new material. As a writer, he goes out of his way to take any speck of pop out of the proceedings. When he wants to show us a Good Time, he takes a minimal approach: steady drums, pesky fiddles, comfy couplets: "Counting the days till Friday night / That's when all the conditions are right."

Why we like it: After umpteen hit albums and twice as many No. 1 songs, this Georgia boy can do whatever he darn well pleases. So after a gospel album and working with Alison Krauss, he makes a long-player as safe and sturdy as his truck. Nothing wrong with that.

Reminds us of: First round's on me, gang.

Download this: Never Loved Before

Grade: B

Ray Davies

Album: Working Man's Cafe (New West)

In stores: Now

Why we care: When it comes to surly rock legends, they don't come much crankier than Ray Davies. But it's that well-worn acrimony that makes the King of the Kinks such a fascinating dude. On his new album, the 63-year-old is both unreasonable ("No point asking me because I haven't got a clue") and vulnerable ("Someone help me off the ground"). Grumpy, but great.

Why we like it: Four years ago, Davies was shot by a mugger in New Orleans. But if his mind is troubled, his body is strong; he leads a rowdy band that summons some of the mayhem that made the Kinks kick.

Reminds us of: Somehow, Pete Townshend is still crankier.

Download this: Morphine Song

Grade: B+


Vampire Weekend

Song: Oxford Comma

Album: Vampire Weekend (XL)

In stores: Now

Why we care: Are you ready for the next great musical movement? Grammar-pop! Okay, maybe not. But this indie quartet is made up of Columbia U. button-downs who rock about prestige, vacations on the Cape and, on this song, the serial comma. Sounds sexy, doesn't it? Read on!

Why we like it: Oxford Comma has a cool, utterly profane strut to it (think Elvis Costello messing around with a toy piano) as an Ivy League fop tries to take down a snobby counterpart with the wisdom of Lil' Jon. If the rich kids in John Hughes movies had formed a band instead of harassing Molly Ringwald, they would have sounded like this.

Reminds us of: Ain't no party like a Strunk & White party! Hey, don't bogart the thesaurus!

Song grade: B

Sean Daly can be reached at
or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.

Kathleen Edwards' 'Asking for Flowers' snaps the heartstrings 03/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:23pm]
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