Measures of plucky playfulness occasionally poke through on Kathleen Edwards's latest and strongest album, Asking for Flowers (Zoe/Rounder). She compares herself to "Elvis Presley in the '70s" and a Ford Tempo on the self-disparaging "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," and declares her love with "a cuss because I mean it" on "Sure As Shit." But it's the emotional gravity of the stories she tells on Flowers that makes the album so compelling, along with her elegantly grainy blend of country, folk, and rock. With vivid details and stark honesty, Edwards writes and sings about a variety of deaths, including that of the spirit, love, a pair of murders, and even death lurking overseas in an "Oil Man's War." Like fellow Canadian Neil Young, she can tell riveting tales with quiet intensity or lash out with stinging fervor, as she does on "Oh Canada," a grim depiction of northern racism with ace guitarist/husband Colin Cripps leading the squally assault. With the Last Town Chorus. 18+.
Fri., May 2, 8 p.m., 2008