Music News

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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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts