Album review: k.d. lang’s ‘Sing It Loud’

June 30, 2011
k.d. lang and the siss boom bang
“Sing it Loud”

Kindred spirits: Patsy Cline, Julie London, Roy Orbison

Show: Wednesday at Wolf Trap. Show starts at 8 p.m. 703-255-1868. www.wolftrap.org. $25-45.

K.d. lang wielding a large megaphone on the cover of her latest album? For a Grammy-winning vocalist who has never needed help reaching the cheap seats, it’s a vivid way of underscoring its title, “Sing it Loud.”

Not that shouts outnumber sighs and whispers this time around — far from it. But lang’s rootsy and resourceful new band, the Siss Boom Bang, wouldn’t be worthy of its name if it didn’t bring out the vocal extrovert in her.

Lang opens the album on a deliriously lovesick note with “I Confess,” a Roy Orbison-like heartacher that builds to a dramatic pitch, making her connection with the late singer all the more palpable and stirring. On “Habit of Mind,” she sings, “I’ve lost my edge, it’s left the building like Elvis, I guess,” yet the performance reminds us that her voice can still be cutting and commanding when a song requires it.

Later, when cowgirl meets chanteuse on David Byrne’s “Heaven,” lang’s trademark torch and twang resonates. The banjo-tinted “Sorrow Nevermore” falls into the same category, with a lyric that boils down to a lover’s ultimatum: “If all you have to offer me is tragedy, I’ll learn to live without your charity.” Lang delivers it as the album draws to a defiant and satisfying close.

— Mike Joyce

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