What a difference the right collaborator makes: Shadowland is much more vivid and loose-limbed than Angel with a Lariat, the earlier album by the Canadian country siren K.D. Lang. Listening to the new album, it's easy to dismiss the Dave Edmunds-produced Angel with a Lariat, because Edmunds's hyperactive roots arrangements didn't suit Lang nearly as well as Owen Bradley's more subdued, stately settings on Shadowland. Lang may be pushing at the limits of contemporary country with her own band and her own material, but the ease and clarity with which she drives the more traditional vehicles on Shadowland point to her greatest strengths as an interpreter.
Shadowland, then, is something of a side project for Lang, the fulfillment of a long-held dream before she returns to her usual job. An avowed Patsy Cline superfan (after all, she did name her regular band the Reclines), Lang sounds thrilled to be working with Bradley, Cline's most notable Nashville patron. But Lang isn't intimidated by the challenge: she eschews reverent caution and sets off explosions on almost every song, especially late-night torch cries like "Busy Being Blue." Bradley, too, seems invigorated by the pairing. He sets Lang's voice against arrangements that sound merely comfortable on the surface but that are really as angular and wary as Lang's best vocal performances.
The last track on Shadowland, a medley of country standards, is the most telling, with Lang receiving vocal assists from such fellow Bradley protégées as Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells. Lang holds her own just fine against these honky-tonk angels, with a sly nod to her role model, Cline, and an eye on her own bright future. On Shadowland, Lang shows that she can become a great Patsy Cline if she wants to, something her fiery live performances always suggested. Now let's see her return to the Reclines, pick up where they left off and become a great K.D. Lang. (RS 528)
(Posted: Jun 16, 1988)
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- Western Stars
- Lock, Stock And Teardrops
- Sugar Moon
- I Wish I Didn't Love You So
- Once Again Around The Dance Floor, (Waltz Me)
- Black Coffee
- Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes
- Tears Don't Care Who Cries Them
- I'm Down To My Last Cigarette
- Busy Being Blue
- Honky Tonk Angels' Medley In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down) / You Nearly Lose Your Mind / Blues Stay Away From Me
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