Sing It Loud ft. The Siss Boom Bang - k.d. lang Album Review
Never mind Rumer and Adele, excellent crooners and yelpers they may be, but Lang is the real deal, no question. "Sing It Loud" ends a drought of band involvement which previously ended with the early trio of exploratory country albums in the late '80s, all recorded with The Reclines. After racking up a string of hit solo albums, initially sparked by the Grammy-supplying "Ingenue" in 1992, Lang's star has burnt oh so very brightly, strengthened by the 2008 set "Watershed", a Top 40 album in the UK. This album heralds her first return in 20 years with a backing band, not that you'd notice much of a difference.
Strangely, this album's cover, featuring Lang bellowing into a conical megaphone and featuring splatter-fonts of "Sing It Loud", is grossly misleading. I was expecting the Canadian singer to go all rock and roll on our asses – instead, this is the pure classic balladeering and vocalising we've come to expect from Lang – and for the most part, it's as sumptuous and addictive as gooey chocolate mousse.
"I Confess" is the lead track and the first single, one of a few co-written with band-members Daniel Clarke and Joshua Grange and as strong a track as you could wish for, although possibly not the strongest tune on the album. That award goes to the spine-tingling "Perfect Word", carelessly offered as a free download on her website – dur, hello! This song is good enough to halt traffic and unite war-zones in my humble stupidity, so quite why you'd fling it for free is beyond me.
But, there is also the title track which, despite the incessant repetition of its title in the chorus, is as worthy as anything on "Ingenue", while "Inglewood" is a plaintive and reflective Americana hymn, dressed up with pedal-steel guitar and a graceful, almost gospel, refrain. In fact, much of this 10-song selection feels like a back-to-basics approach, lightly seasoned with to-die-for arrangements, with few failures.
I'm slightly undecided about the song "Heaven" or, more to the point, the cover of it. As a Talking Heads song, extracted from their triumphant "Fear Of Music" album, it's a mildly typical Byrne-esque dream-piece of what the world up-above might be like. Lang has slowed it down to a mercurial and funereal pace, beautifully sung and exquisitely scored, yet I want it to be a bit more celestial, more flamboyant – and I guess that is where this entire album occasionally falls down.
"Sing It Loud" doesn't leap out of the speakers, it doesn't fire up the mirrorball and it doesn't quite have the blissful and shimmering hedonism of her previous solo works, but it does ooze the typical languid Lang shang-a-lang and deft arrangements that we've all become used to. Not a triumphant return, but an absorbing one.
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