Kat Edmondson/ Photo by Alyson Fox
Kat Edmondson is a curious talent.
On the last night of her first headline tour, the Texas singer-songwriter seemed genuinely surprised and thrilled to find a full house for her Minneapolis debut at the Dakota on Saturday night. Wondering how people had discovered her, she asked how many folks had seen her on TV’s “Austin City Limits.” There was a smattering of applause.
On “Austin City Limits” in January, the show devoted half-an-hour to Norah Jones and a similar amount of time to Edmondson. That was an ideal context and situation for the newcomer, who has opened on tour, most notably, for Lyle Lovett..
At the Dakota, Edmondson came across like Norah Jones’ kid sister who listened to more Billie Holiday than Willie Nelson.
Like Jones, Edmondson, 29, specializes in low-key music that marries jazz and pop, with a hint of country and blues. It’s slow, subtle and a little sultry. But, over the course of 80 minutes at the Dakota, her material suffered from similarity in tempo, dynamic and content – she’s unhappy when the relationship is over.
With her pixie hairdo, low-energy presence and mostly detached delivery, she came across like a sleepy, poker-faced Peter Pan with a cartoonishly girlish voice. And, to complicate matters, her conversation was as understated as her music.
Backed by a tasty trio, Edmondson certainly had her moments, including the Roy Orbison-ish “Hopelessly Blue,” the intentionally un-bubbly “Champagne,” the gently swinging, Patsy Cline-evoking “Long Way Home,” the flamenco-flavored, Spaghetti Western-inspired “You Can’t Break My Heart” and the happy, dreamy “Lucky,” which broke the downbeat mood with the kind of simplicity, spareness and joy of, say, Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”
Drawing mostly from her current CD “Way Down Low,” Edmondson’s set begged for more variety. Where was “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which she sang this month at Carnegie Hall at a tribute to Prince? That tune certainly would have been appropriate on her first trip to Minneapolis. Or how ‘bout “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? She recorded that with Lovett, for his holiday single. Hello, Minnesota?
Opening was Milow (pronounced Milo), 31, a Belgium singer-songwriter with a fetching James Taylor-like voice and manner. For an unknown newcomer (actually he’s released five albums in Europe), he said just enough about himself to pique listeners’ interest. And he had enough musical and personal charm to make some people pencil in his next Dakota appearance – May 30, opening for Stephen Kellogg.