The low-key name case/lang/viers and the subtle promotion around this album shields the fact that this is Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Viers we are dealing with here, 3 top-of-the-line singer-songwriters. The star quality shines through this smooth collection of grown-up pop music, released by Anti.
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A songwriter supergroup, then, how about it? Usually you assemble the band from bits and pieces here and there, in all traditional components towards playing the music, but this trio involves three excellent solo writers going at songs together. The first is twang legend Neko Case, the second is consummate pro k.d. Lang and the third Portland artist Laura Veirs. It’s not like they need to compete -- each artist has an ornate and moving take on their own alt country sound -- and instead this record feels like a joint celebration between three peers.
The record is subtle and unbothered -- after Case’s intense, brutal and fuckin’ sweary ‘The Worse Things Get’, this record offers the respite of a laid back, downtempo country record built around modest string arrangements, brushed drums and shadowy piano ballads (save for the belter of an intro that ushers “Best Kept Secret” across its tracks). The trio complement each other on backing harmonies but ultimately give one another a respectful breathing space on which to imprint their own songs -- this sort of evenly-shared, laissez faire collaboration gives the record a great, meandering flow, offering songs that are more about their journey than their hooks.
The best bits are the most symphonic, attesting to the monumental moments Case, Lang and Veirs have all mined from their quiet sounds -- each artist has a longstanding ability to merge a sparse alt-folk with the lilting orchestral elements that elevate it. Clearly produced, the record makes every poised vocal harmony, wiry string and percussive cadence sound like fine tracing paper for three differently moved lyricists, a group who work hard to bridge the gap between a line as euphoric as "you're the best kept secret in Silver Lake" and one as distraught as "still I want you to love me".
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