Shadowland

k.d. lang

Sire, 1988

http://www.kdlang.com

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/26/2008

k.d.lang flipped country music on its complacent and monotonous head with her devotion to vintage country and her obvious androgyny -- even more so, with her pure talent and showmanship. More importantly, like her muse Patsy Cline, she defied industry norms and preconceptions about country music and in doing so claimed a huge following of fans far outside the typical country music demographic. In her wake, she left a mark on the pop and jazz charts as well as on the country scene.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For her third release, lang was able to lasso the god-like Nashville icon Owen Bradly (Patsy Cline's mentor), who in turn used his connections to bring in legendary backup singers The Jordaniares, as well as county giants Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, and Brenda Lee. Lang sounds more solid than ever on this disc. Her smooth, husky voice channels Roy Orbison as much as it does her idol Cline. Her mellow crooning carries the natural smoky ambiance of languid Southern nights and whiskey-soaked melancholy. lang has her ‘50s-‘60s country groove strapped on just right, and she deftly channels the smooth pop sensibility that blasted Cline to the top of the charts into Bradley's beautiful arrangements.

Several of the best of the songs fall into the torch variety. “Black Coffee” and the title track “Shadowland” are prime examples of lang's perfect choice of material. The country swing of “Sugar Moon” and “I'm Down To My Last Cigarette” add some liveliness to the disc. My favorite is the least typical song, the heart-aching  “Busy Being Blue,” which is a pure blast of bluesy torch. Lang pulls out the stops and belts this one out from her guts.

Sweet crooning and mellow western grooves flow out with a natural ease, sweetly bridging the time gap between the country-pop of the early ‘60s and lang's own modern country interpretations. The key is the masterful production; Owen's genius places all the strings where they belong, pedal steel guitars peddling their sighing, crying steel in perfect sync with country fiddle and honky-tonk piano.  This is a damn near perfect album from beginning to end. You could travel back to 1960, play this, and no one would miss a beat, they'd just get up and start waltzing.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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