This self titled collaboration between Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs is a coherent, harmony laden surprise that plays to each members strengths while still managing to forge a group identity over it’s 14 tracks.
It all started when k.d. lang (who is clearly still paying attention to the music scene when some others of her vintage have lost interest), sent an email out of the blue to Laura Veirs and Neko Case suggesting they do something together. After everyone agreeing that this was a good idea it took a couple of years to gestate and pull together.
Sometimes albums like this can come across as vanity projects for one or other of the members, or like a mix of ingredients that don’t quite work in a badly blended smoothie. This album however seems to have been designed from the start as a joint project with everyone contributing vocals and songwriting chops to each track rather than overdubbing the hell out of a basic recording by one of them. k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, who both live in Portland Oregon, started things off by hanging out at each others studios and then headed down to Neko Case in Vermont to further develop the songs. So what do a country superstar, Indie and folk singer write about? Well a supermoon, fireworks, 70’s singer Judy Sill and the best kept secret in Silver Lake for a start.
Delirium (inspired by checking out the names of fireworks at a local store) is sung by Neko but sounds like it could come off lang’s 1992 Ingénue. Similarly Honey & Smoke while having lovely oohs and ahhs provided by Case/Veirs also covers classic lang territory. But it’s not all aching ballads and strings. Song For Judee has a gentle folk accompaniment that complements the songs narrative perfectly and Behind The Armoury is classic Case/Veirs in style. For me Best Kept Secret with it’s chiming guitars, sing-a-long chorus and faster tempo grabbed me on first listen and had me dancing around the lounge. I would have liked a few more uptempo numbers like this on the album but really it’s a minor complaint in a treasury of country /folk numbers.
At the time of the year when it’s indoor weather most days, this album is like a relaxing evening sharing a late night drink with three friends by the fire swapping stories. It was clearly an enjoyable experience for all involved as well as Case/Lang/Veirs are in the middle of a 30 date tour supporting it. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Click here to listen to Best Kept Secret from Case/Lang/Veirs: