Picks and Pans Review: Shadowland
The Prairie Princess, k.d. lang, is out to bag some big game on this album. Mission accomplished. On her first record here, Angel with a Lariat, the Canadian singer seemed content to introduce her impressive voice, wacky sense of humor and familiarity with the American country-music canon. This time her voice is huskier and more forceful—no more delicate Patsy Cline homages—and her attitude more serious. On the album's first song, Chris Isaak's Western Stars, the influence of lang's recent collaborations with Roy Orbison is evident in the way she zings up the scales. The music on Shadowland, produced by Owen Bradley, is generally more Western than country, but it ranges farther than a mustang. The varied repertoire dips into the past, letting lang vamp it up like a breathy, been-around-the-park jazz chanteuse on Black Coffee by Sonny Burke and Paul Francis Walker. She comes across like a truck-stop lounge singer on the Tobias brothers' Tears Don't Care Who Cries Them and puts on her cocktail-dress-and-pearl-necklace voice for Frank Loesser's standard I Wish I Didn't Love You So. The gamut of styles on Shadowland may challenge some listeners, particularly traditional country fans. But on k.d., this vaulting ambition looks good. (Sire)
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