mon 01/06/2020

CD: k d lang and the Siss Boom Bang - Sing it Loud | reviews, news & interviews

CD: k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang - Sing it Loud

CD: k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang - Sing it Loud

It might not be country, but lang's latest is full of soul

With k.d. lang's original "cowpunk" days of Absolute Torch and Twang now a distant memory, she has settled into the role of deluxe vocal stylist with a bit of heritage balladry on the side (for instance, her collaboration with Tony Bennett, A Wonderful World). This batch of new material, most of it co-written with co-producer Joe Pisapia, rings familiar lang-esque bells. We're barely into the first track, "I Confess", when shades of her idol Roy Orbison become discernable in the vertiginous melodrama of the arrangement, and the late, great Patsy Cline frequently takes a peek over lang's shoulder.

Lang's preferred tempo lies somewhere between relaxed and hypnotically slow, but once you've done a few deep breathing exercises and dragged yourself down to her pace, you begin to feel the force of her performances. Her voice remains utterly formidable, capable of awesome feats of power and sustain as well as feathery introspection and a kind of bruised erotic regret. In "The Water's Edge", she floats beautifully sculpted phrases over a bed of ticking percussion, rumbling bass and swoony, Chris Isaak-like guitar. In "Perfect Word", she effortlessly commands a complex, multilayered arrangement featuring sparkling acoustic guitar, vaporous steel guitar and shivery jabs of strings.

Watch k.d. lang sing "Sugar Buzz"

Though the album was recorded in Nashville, you'd hardly call it country, even if a banjo suddenly becomes the lead instrument in the gentle melodic reverie of "Sing it Loud". Sometimes there are hints of Muscle Shoals and its Southern soul heritage, as in the warm organ undertow of "Sugar Buzz", while more banjo and pedal steel can't disguise the fact that the slowly building "Habit of Mind" is superior mainstream pop-soul buffed to a silky sheen. Lang's version of Talking Heads' "Heaven" transports the original's ironic melodic blandness to a cavernous hall full of clouds and whispers.

The album supposedly marks the debut of lang's new band, the freakishly named Siss Boom Bang, but it's such a fastidiously constructed studio artefact that it's impossible to guess what the ensemble would sound like playing live in front of a crowd. We'll be able to tell when she comes to the UK at the end of May.

Comments

I love that video, great camera work!

Why do you consider the band's name to be "freakish"? Strikes me more as playful.

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