Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Seeing kd lang -- "just a big boned gal from Canada" as she described herself to me an eon ago -- at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver singing a beautiful if slightly overlong Hallelujah reminded what an extraordinary talent she is.
She effortlessly opened up her career from country music into big but soft-voiced ballads, performed with Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett ("the best singer of her generation" Bennett said) and -- the largely unrecognised part -- wrote magnificent songs (with Ben Mink) such as Constant Craving and Miss Chatelaine which have become contemporary standards.
And speaking of standards, she did fine versions of material by Cole Porter (So in Love and Love for Sale) Hoagy Carmichael (Skylark) ... as well as covering Neil Young (Helpless), the Beatles (Golden Slumbers/The End) and Cohen.
Her lovely album Watershed of '08 went went top 10 in the US but was rather cruelly overlooked in New Zealand, so it is good to see I Dream of Spring (studio and live versions) and a live Thread from it on this three CD and a DVD collection.
The first two discs draw evenly from '89s Absolute Torch and Twang (Trail of Broken Hearts) to Watershed with digressions into music from soundtracks such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Black Dahlia, Happy Feet, Salmonberries and others, as well as her Unplugged with Bennett, So in Love from that Red, Hot and Blue album and a previously unreleased version of Hallelujah.
The third disc is of rarities and live versions, and the DVD picks from all parts of her career in videos and live performances.
As with that Vancouver appearance, you cannot help but be impressed by the consistency of her sound and musical vision -- but if there is a criticism it's that three versions of Hallejujah (the original, a new one and a DVD live version) alongside three of Helpless (original, live and DVD live) plus two of Crying with Orbison (studio, DVD) and a few others getting both CD and video version rather shortchanges when she had other material worthy of inclusion.
Recollection also comes in a version with just the first two CDs. Unless you are a massive fan, that might be the one to go for.