Crap Year, Cool Tunes: The Top 10 Albums of 2016

3:  case/lang/veirs

img_20170112_114032Dear Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs: Please make 10 more albums together. At least. The origin of this astoundingly simpatico collaborative effort may have been casual—out of the blue, lang emailed Case and Veirs to propose recording together and they quickly agreed—but it’s clear that once in the studio, these seasoned solo artists worked diligently to blend their differing styles. The truest vocal collaboration is the opening track, “Atomic Number,” on which each takes a line in the verse.  lang’s hot-buttered-rum alto gives way to Veirs’ sweet folkie timbre which cedes to Case’s high, emotive twang before the trio unites in exquisite harmony on the chorus. It’s the aural equivalent of a flower unfolding to full bloom. On the rest of the tracks, one sings lead while her cohorts chime in with pitch-perfect backing vocals. Veirs, previously the least-known and most stylistically constrained of the three, really holds her own, co-writing every song and taking the reins on many, including “Song for Judee,” a lovely, evocative tribute to obscure ‘70s folk artist Judee Sill, who succumbed to drug addiction. “They found you with a needle in your arm,” Veirs sings, “Beloved books strewn around at your feet.”  Producer Tucker Martine, Veirs’ spouse, adds charming ‘60s pop touches here and there. As effortlessly gorgeous as this album sounds, Veirs has said that the recording process was difficult and there may not be a follow-up. Let’s hope that’s not true. This formidable threesome is too good to be a one-off. (And that countdown pun merits a score of zero.)


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