Contrary to the title of her new album, Kathleen Edwards isn’t one to ask for flowers. Entertainment Weekly says, “Edwards kicks butt,” while the NY Times has hailed her as “a scrapper through and through.” And while ‘Asking for Flowers’ (March 4, ZoĆ«/Rounder Records) features a couple songs that vie for the catchiest in Edwards’ canon, it also includes the acclaimed songwriter’s most outspoken work to date.

“What’s the point if it’s all butterflies and strawberries?” Edwards deadpans. Below, she elaborates on the inspiration for three of ‘Flowers’ most unflinching tunes.

* ALICIA ROSS – “I had just gotten off tour and the story of this missing woman [Ross, a 25-year-old who was brutally murdered by her next door neighbor] was all over the news. I really felt for her mother, knowing that with each passing day, it’s less likely her daughter is alive.” Edwards wrote the song in Ross’ posthumous voice:

Mamma, can you hear me?
As I dragged on my day’s last cigarette
He pulled me so hard off my very own back door steps
And he laid me in his garden
All the years I’ve watched him tend

All royalties from the song will be donated to Project Canoe, a charity for at-risk youth founded by Ross’ parents.

* OIL MAN’S WAR – “This song isn’t anti-military,” insists Edwards, “it’s about a guy who chooses his own path.” Set in the Vietnam era, Edwards tells the story of a young couple about to embark on a new life:

I won’t change my mind
Keep your hand on my thigh tonight
When we get up north
We’ll buy us a store
Live upstairs after the kids are born

*OH CANADA – Perhaps the most topical song Edwards has ever written, “Oh Canada” explores a different issue in each of its three verses – from media racism, to environmental waste to suburban white flight. She sings:

It’s not the year of the gun
But we don’t say it out loud
There are no headlines
When a black girl dies


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