Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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K.D. Lang and the Reclines

  • Absolute Torch and Twang [Sire, 1989] B+

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Absolute Torch and Twang [Sire, 1989]
Finally she swells with the contained enthusiasm of Tracy Nelson Country 20 years ago, back when authenticity wasn't such a vexed concept. Willie Nelson's "Three Days" and Wynn Stewart's "Big Big Love" do stand out, but not so's they embarrass Lang's originals, most of which are pretty metaphysical for country music. They're just highlights, like her own lusty "Big Boned Gal" and her own metaphysical "Luck in My Eyes." And "Nowhere to Stand" is an even smarter (and more abstract, fancy that) battered-child song than Suzanne Vega's or Natalie Merchant's. Maybe it's out of place on a quasiauthentic country record, though you have to like how she sneaks in the phrase "family tradition." But vexed concepts cut two ways. B+