If we work from the joyful premise that it's great fun listening to an artist grow, it is then my pleasure to say that 'Asking For Flowers' is a genuine growth spurt. True, you won't find any markings on the doorway moldings or on the wall, but on her third studio release Edwards has fashioned a most tuneful and lyrical maturity.
With its feisty sincerity, her 2003 debut Failer left me thinking there was promise, and be sure to check her next disc. (Who hasn't been misled of an artist's abilities by the strength of their debuts?) So it was a relief when her 2005 follow-up Back to Me found her focused and vulnerable, raising the bar and starting to distance herself from the songwriting pack.
From the start, Asking For Flowers strikes the perfect balance between these two previous discs. With its romantic tension stated succinctly ("Have you ever seen lightening and snow?") Buffalo moves from its introverted lone piano to the open, rolling road with the immediate entrance of Gary Craig's kick drum. Guitars churn and jangle jubilantly on the searing The Cheapest Key ("B is for bullshit and you fed me some.")
Though I doubt it was her intent, Edwards surpasses the early Neil Young comparisons by out-Neiling the old man on the Crazy Horse inspired Oh Canada and the deceptively beautiful, heart-breaking murder?/rape? ballad Alicia Ross. Despite the fact that she tackles the subject of male/female give and take with greater rewards on the title track and even though it borders on being too mainstream country I Make The Dough You Get The Glory still hits home with a raw punch. Wrap it all up with Sure As Shit, Scared At Night and the drifting-off-til-dawn Goodnight, California and you have the first great work of 2008.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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