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Who ever expected a musical collaboration between vocal powerhouse singer/songwriters k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs? According to legend (or press releases), the inspired match-up began after lang reached out to acquaintances Case and Veirs to say they should make a record together. Apparently ever since working with Roy Orbison, lang had dreamed about someday having her own version of the Traveling Wilburys.
Now, two and a half years later, we have a self-titled debut of 14 new original songs by three distinctly different artists. The songwriting was collaborative, and each woman takes turns singing lead, with the others backing her up: Case goes first on Atomic Number (though lines are traded between the singers), lang next on Honey And Smoke, Veirs on Song For Judee, and so forth. Each woman’s distinct singing and songwriting style is front and centre, but their voices blend beautifully.
It’s somewhat surprising to learn that the songwriting was collaborative, because the songs lang sings lead on sound very much like k.d. lang songs – slow, seductive ballads (Honey And Smoke, Blue Fires), the Case songs sound like Neko Case songs and the Veirs songs sound like Laura Veirs songs. That’s likely due to their distinct voices. Sweet-voiced Veirs, also a skilled guitarist, gets the most writing credits (one for every song), and though she’s the least famous member, many of the ones she sings lead on are the most memorable, in particular the catchy Best Kept Secret and closer Georgia Stars, which could be a old-time folk classic.
Meanwhile, big-voiced Case brings lots of emotional power to the gorgeous Delirium and Supermoon, while lang-led aching Why Do We Fight hits the hardest.
Top track: Georgia Stars
case/lang/veirs play the Danforth Music Hall on August 16 and 17. See listing.