k.d. lang

Hymns of the 49th Parallel (Nonesuch)

Great White Peabody's, 2083 East 21st Street 8 p.m. Thursday, July 22; $13 advance/$15 day of show, 216-776-9999
K.d. lang's first album for the Warner Bros. boutique label Nonesuch is high-concept, indeed. It celebrates songwriters from north of the border, lang's soul- and countrymates. While it's often lovely and it sounds like money, it's also a bit precious.

Hymns treads the line between the sensual and the somnolent, the seductive and the soporific. Without question, the songs are beautiful: Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and "Helpless" benefit from lushly voiced arrangements, and the churchy treatment of "Bird on a Wire" gives Leonard Cohen's lugubrious ballad a new, sanctified dimension. Lang deploys her expressive contralto in straightforward fashion; there are more dynamics than nuance in her voice, however.

You may gather that this is an album of noble intentions, and it certainly showcases deserving artists. But after a while, the tunes blend into one another, their individuality blunted by a sameness of tempo and tone. Beautifully if too straightforwardly sung, so thoughtfully conceived that it's overwrought, Hymns isn't vital enough to transcend showcase status. Its seriousness overwhelms its perfume.

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.
Scroll to read more Music News articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.