k.d. lang

The lowercased lang — the subject of an extended Q&A accessible at blogs.westword.com/backbeat — arrived on the '80s music scene as a glorious freak: a short-maned Canuck with a boisterous manner, a jet engine of a voice and a taste for vintage cowgirl duds and Patsy Cline. It was an enjoyable persona, but also a limiting one, and by the time the single "Constant Craving" turned 1992's Ingénue into a career-redefining hit, she'd gotten serious — and she's remained that way ever since. Watershed, her first collection of original material in eight years, is well-considered and tasteful, with lyrics that reflect her abiding interest in Buddhism and a vocal style that prizes subtlety and nuance over sheer volume. Although the album's considerably less fun than, for instance, 1987's Angel With a Lariat, the maturity of her presentation offers rewards of its own. Joined on this bill by Dustin O'Halloran, lang remains a novel talent, even if she long ago left novelty behind.


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