There’s plenty of Canadian folk that falls under the (somewhat unfortunate) Americana label, but Dan Edmonds is looking to shed that tag as he leaves his band Harlan Pepper behind and sets off with solo debut Ladies on the Corner.
The Hamilton band bowed out despite what was looking like a successful run, giving Edmonds the chance to scoot past the gentle nudges of a twang and settle into some downright old-fashioned country. There’s the mimicry of a well-worn record on the vocals, crackling and distant—and reaching for that warm and rich hue as instrumental bridges pick up that classic sound with a seductive horn solo as “To Be That Needle” winds down.
Edmonds settles into a familiar, languid storytelling rhythm on “Dreaming of Someone,” but the bite behind the title starts to show it’s teeth as he closes, “I’m not thinking about you darling, I’m dreaming of someone.” Meanwhile “Can’t Stop Thinking” finds a modern melody, those Americana days still trailing close on Edmonds’ heels.
But then it’s all aggressive, Cash-like worldliness for “Love Can Be A Tunnel,” the track the album gets its name from—and it means exactly what it suggests. Still, the musical interlude steps away from the coarseness of the lyrics, swirling into new nothingness. “My friend called me over to the gutter,” he explains on “Couches,” a psychedelic-light number that plays on the so-called dark spaces in our cities.
“Lesbian Love Song” is a gently stinging number about unrequited love that reminds me of the loving, funny cruelty of Coldwater Road’s “Dear Eurydice,” though Edmonds chooses a briefer, more accepting route in the end. It pairs nicely with the less guarded “Yearning,” the brief wail of vocals meshing together Edmonds’ rough sound with the marching ringing of the accompaniment.
Closer “Goodbye Irene” makes a case for Edmonds’ varied taste, and perhaps nods at his former Harlan Pepper days, as the acoustic song bids adieu to an old love—quickly, beautifully and simply. And ultimately Ladies on the Corner feels like that too, an ode to the past but with an eye fixed on the future. There’s no heartbreak here, but a willingness to say goodbye and move on.
Top Track: “Love Can Be A Tunnel”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)