Kathleen Edwards

Saturday, May 28, 2022

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Ottawa, ONT, CAN

By 2014, the singer-songwriter had released four studio albums and amassed widespread critical acclaim. She had been touring since the release of her 2012 album, Voyageur, and the prospect of returning home—only to start writing her way toward another album, and another tour—felt impossibly daunting. She put her guitar away, at least for awhile: she moved back to her hometown of Ottawa and settled down in Stittsville, an old village on the western edge of town.  A running inside joke with bandmate Jim Bryson about opening a coffee shop and naming it "Quitters" became reality.  For years, the only new music she heard was playing in the background while she served her regulars at the shop, where she slowly started to fall in love with music again.

“I didn’t want to write songs that were going to keep me in a dark place on stage every night,” she says. “I didn’t have to carry a lot of the pressure of whatever course I was on previously… There’s a pressure sometimes to keep that ball rolling, and that’s what was so freeing about stopping altogether. I have this whole other experience now that grounded me and helped me rebuild my relationship with myself, and writing music. I’m entirely in control and deciding what my course of action is.”

"I finally had this exhale from a year that was really hard,” she says of the forces shaping Total Freedom. “I went through a scary experience, extricating myself from someone, and it was this wonderful moment of resilience when I finished the album. I am super resilient. I’m always finding ways to adjust what’s not working. I’m not gonna let someone take me down in the process. I think that calling [the record] Total Freedom was a reminder that I am a really strong person."