K.d. lang has spent the last few years rummaging around in her musical past releasing reissues of her days in the 1980s with her then-band The Reclines (Reintarnation) and the career retrospective Recollections. Perhaps remembering working with a band has caused lang to consider collaborating with a group again. After several years making lush, romantic pop albums as a solo artist, lang has gone back to Nashville and assembled a band for this, her first album of new material, since 2008.
The chief collaborator with k.d. on Sing It Loud is former Guster member Joe Pisapia who co-produces and co-writes a good portion of the songs. Other band members get to help in the songwriting making this a true band collaboration.
Stylistically, lang sounds like she is straddling the line between the pop music she has been making over the past decade and the country-twang of her earlier recordings. The album opens with I Confess, a torch ballad that finds lang singing “I’ll be your daddy”, before the track explodes into a virtual wall of sound. A pedal steel solo belies the band’s Nashville origins, but the increasing intensity of the arrangement sounds like something Roy Orbison would have liked to wrap his vocal chords around.
Elsewhere on tunes like A Sleep With No Dreaming and The Water’s Edge, lang and co opt for a seductive, twangy atmosphere, not unlike the work of Chris Isaak. Perfect World features a bluesy guitar lick and a smouldering lyric…”the fire from your tongue is burning uncontrollably, I’m only human after all”, lang sings seductively as another steel guitar solo slides in. Sugar Buzz is an upbeat, rootsy workout as is the closer, Sorrow Nevermore. Along the way we are also treated to a dreamy version of Talking Heads’ Heaven.
Sing It Loud isn’t a huge departure from what lang has been doing recently, but the tasteful touches of banjo, steel guitar and acoustic guitar create a natural ambience that works well with lang’s gorgeous vocals. Of course her singing and phrasing is impeccable throughout.
Where previous albums have threatened to push k.d. lang into the easy-listening bin, Sing It Loud is a welcome return to her country roots.
– Marty Duda
Click here to listen to I Confess from Sing It Loud: