Prolific artists keep producing

Kathleen Edwards
“Asking for Flowers”
4 out of 5 stars

Is there another female singer/songwriter out there right now who is as talented as Kathleen Edwards? Over the course of her first three full-length albums, Edwards has established herself as a fine musician and songwriter, calling on an eclectic mix of influences to make a sound all her own.

“Asking for Flowers,” the latest from the 29-year-old Canadian, is an album overflowing with poignant statements and startling observations: introspective, reflective and plenty enjoyable. Musically, Edwards’ sound harkens back to Ryan Adams’ early solo works as well as his last two “Whiskeytown” records – alt-country-style pop songs that feature plenty of twanging, chiming electric guitars, acoustic rhythm guitars, Hammond organs and pleasant harmonies.

Lyrically, Edwards has put together an emotional record that’s earnestly bittersweet and uncompromisingly passionate, talking about social injustice, draft dodgers, love and the conflicts it creates. In some ways it feels lyrically like an earlier Bruce Springsteen album with its own distinct flair. As singer/songwriters go, Kathleen Edwards is as talented as they come, and that’s not something I say often.

Key Tracks: “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory,” “Oil Man’s War,” “Asking for Flowers”

Black Keys
“Attack & Release”
3.5 out of 5 stars

The careers of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (the Black Keys) have, if nothing else, been steady through the release of their four previous, blues-affected garage records. While they are very good albums, by the time their last one, “Magic Potion,” came around in late 2006, the sound had started to get a tad weary. So they went and brought in the one and only Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley and MFDOOM fame) to man the controls for the recording of this LP.

It’s still very much a Black Keys record: full to the brim with growling guitar riffs, rattling drum lines and plenty of bluesy garage rock. What Danger Mouse has brought to this besides his standard hazy production and occasional sonic flair is an increased intensity to both the sound of the album and the songs themselves, which works for a majority of this album. However, it doesn’t always hit the nail on the head.

Is it the best that the band has done? I’m not sure, but it still makes for a really good set of songs.

Key Tracks: “I Got Mine,” “Strange Times,” “So He Won’t Break”