Power trio barely seems to scratch the surface.
The new record teaming up Neko Case, Laura Veirs, and k.d. lang has arrived. case/lang/veirs is a collaborative effort loaded with luscious melody, searing song craft, and ready to contend for most-anticipated summer spin.
lang, who moved to Portland in 2012, kicked it off with an email to Case and Veirs, testing the waters.
“It was a gamble really,” said Case. “I mean, I knew Laura a bit and I had met k.d. and we got along, but when you commit to a project like this, the odds of getting two other people who show up, and do what they say they are going to do, it’s not always in the cards.”
It took three years, but with diligence, creative scheduling, and three intensive trips bringing Case into the songwriting mix, they had enough material to start recording at Floratone Studios in Portland, with Veirs’ husband Tucker Martine producing.
You could try to pin down what unites these three iconoclasts: the alt-country firebrand, the songcraft master, and the powerhouse vocalist. But that might defeat the purpose and the fun of listening to their gifts entwine.
“An example is “Song For Judy,” Veirs told us. “I had been singing in the chorus: ‘You love the Sons of Pioneers and the Hollywood cowboy stars / You were just trying to understand where we are’. And Neko said, ‘Why don’t you say “….Put a hand to where we are”?’ That’s so brilliant, so poetic, and perfect and lifts it up.”
They initially considered doing an album of covers, but settled on original songs bearing fingerprints from each member of the group. The result delivers songs like “Blue Fires”, melding Veirs’ sharp, poignant narrative with silver-toned mix of ache and restraint. Another beauty, “Down I-5 is an ode to the pleasures of solitary road trips. (Only Neko Case could pull off the marriage of William Blake with a brash topper: “Some are born to sweet delight / Some are born to endless night / I’ve tasted both / They are the same”.)
lang said while the alliance was exciting for all three of them, the writing was not always easy.
“When it comes to writing you have to get naked with each other, not knowing each other,” she said, “and create a dialect and a way of communicating in the most internal sense. It proved to be difficult at times.”
But the final result is that musical unicorn, a true marriage of skills by three artists in top form.
lang called the act of singing together, “a kind of a pact.”
Case added,”There are times like yesterday in the studio when k.d. was singing. Laura and I just had to [say], ‘Where are you going to spend all that money?’ It’s just stunning.”