Release Date: 06/17/2016
The genesis for this collaboration of lush harmonies amidst orchestral backdrop is several years old and it took almost three years to complete the project given the busy schedules of these three successful artists. Credit k.d. lang for the impetus as she sent an email to Neko Case and Laura Veirs, stating simply, “I think we should make a record together.” Both responded immediately and eventually the sessions were laid down in Portland, OR where lang and Veirs both live. The trio had plenty of inspirational scenery to draw from as lang’s loft has a view of Mount St. Helens and Viers used her backyard studio. The fourteen brand new songs were written over a period of two and half years, many where all three collaborated on the writing and others where two of them paired up.
Maybe it’s because I’m most familiar with Case’s voice, but hers seems to be the dominant one throughout with Veirs and lang providing harmony. Their voices blend together so well that it is difficult to clearly identify the lead. Here’s k.d. lang on their approach in a lennyletter.com interview, “We came to a crossroads in the music when started trying to demo them. We all decided that we didn’t want to have three-part harmonies on every song and that we didn’t want to try to make every song a trio song. What we thought was interesting, and more to what we were doing instinctually, was that Laura does take a song, and then I try to blend into her, and Neko blends into her. We did want it to feel more like a collaborative band rather than a three-star trio thing.” Case offered this on the songwriting, “I think you’d be surprised at who wrote what here and there. Some songs will sound like k.d. maybe, but I wrote them. Or Laura will have written a guitar part that will sound like me. We did try to work for each other, as well as for ourselves.” Tucker Martine produced the album in conjunction with the trio and he also engineered it. The backing band is essentially a basic four piece with guests on selected tracks augmented by strings from the Grammy winning Tosca String Quartet.
As you might expect there is some weird subject matter such as “Supermoon,” “Blue Fires,” “Georgia Stars” and an underlying mysterious aura throughout. The album’s best cut, “Best Kept Secret (in Silver Lake),” is apparently written about their guitarist, Tim Young. Laura Veirs penned “Song for Judee” – the tragic story of the 70s singer Judee Sill. The first track, “Atomic Number,” which will be the single, begins with a guitar part reminiscent of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Although I was expecting some punk or at least a few hard edges in places, (and apparently the three considered that), the collaboration resulted in mostly a shimmering Americana/folk/neo-pop style.
The trio will embark on a three month summer tour with beginning on the west coast, hitting the east coast in late July and then finishing the middle of the country in August. Dates are already confirmed for the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, The Newport Folk Festival and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Visit www.caselangveirs.com for details.
– Jim Hynes