Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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K.D. Lang [extended]

  • Shadowland [Sire, 1988] B
  • Absolute Torch and Twang [Sire, 1989] B+
  • Ingénue [Sire/Warner Bros., 1992] Neither
  • Even Cowgirls Get the Blues [Sire/Warner Bros., 1993] Neither
  • Lifted by Love [Sire/Warner Bros., 1994] Neither
  • All You Can Eat [Warner Bros., 1995] Neither
  • Invincible Summer [Warner Bros., 2000] Neither

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Shadowland [Sire, 1988]
Whether claiming Nashville for torch song, joining Tracy Chapman's New Dignity movement, or embalming country the way title-tunesmith Chris Isaak embalms rockabilly, Lang resembles Patsy Cline (or whomever) less than the Pet Shop Boys--impossible to suss out her relationship to music she presumably loves. B

K.D. Lang and the Reclines: 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+

Ingénue [Sire/Warner Bros., 1992] Neither

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues [Sire/Warner Bros., 1993] Neither

Lifted by Love [Sire/Warner Bros., 1994] Neither

All You Can Eat [Warner Bros., 1995] Neither

Invincible Summer [Warner Bros., 2000] Neither

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1990s]: As an out lesbian singing putative country music she galvanized an audience ready to take her seriously--mostly gay, but including me. Conceiving pop as jazz à la Lyle Lovett rather than schlock à la Garth Brooks, she piled on the cred. And she definitely has a voice--calm yet bereft, cool yet kind. But how you respond to a voice is always deeply idiosyncratic, and Lang's continued cult status suggests that not getting hers is nothing to feel guilty about. Or maybe it's just that in a decade when technically accomplished singing made a major pop comeback--which it did, I ambivalently insist, despite what rap-haters feared--good singers writing mediocre songs got more play than they deserved. I listened hard to every one of her albums and stuck every one in my Neither file. Her claque cheers loudest for 1992's Ingénue.