Anti-, 2016

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka


The world of pop music is littered with the wreckage of super-groups that promised so much and failed to deliver. However, every now and then, one of these combinations gets the chemistry right and a beautiful album emerges. Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Viers’ collaboration is an example of the latter.

Emerging after a very long gestation (recorded between 2013 and 2015), the result is one of peculiar beauty. While Case and lang are the more well-established members of this trio, the result is feels balanced and complimentary. Of the 14 tracks on the album, four are led by lang and five each by Case and Viers. Nonetheless, it is clear that each of the three songwriters’ styles remains intact on their respective contributions. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The songs contributed by Neko Case all possess that smoky-yet-sweet melodic style that is more characteristic of her more recent work. Cuts like “Atomic Number” and “Delirium” are among the highlights of the album, full of energy and sharp performance.  

Laura Viers also brings some interesting material to the album as well, including the ethereal “Greens Of June,” the bright and uplifting “Best Kept Secret,” and the closing track, the folky “Georgia Stars.” More than the others, Viers’ songs seem to cover the widest range in terms of style, making her the dark horse in this outfit.

Even though I am a big fan of Neko Case, k.d. lang stole the show on the album. Each one of her songs is simply beautiful and brilliant, from the dreamy “Honey And Smoke,” to the heartbreak and yearning of “Blue Fires” and “Why Do We Fight,” to the more upbeat “1000 Miles Away.” Her clear and smooth crooning voice is in total command of the material and can wring the most emotion out of her songs.

While all three singers perform on each of the songs, the format works such that each singer takes the lead on their own song, with the other two singing backup. This does yield plenty of beautiful vocal harmonies, but it also seems like it leaves a lot of potential on the bench. I would love to see this trio do another effort like this, but with songs that were more collaborative creations instead of individual works. There seems to be great artistic chemistry here that is still largely untapped. Nonetheless, this album remains a collection of terrific songs that would have stood out on any of their respective solo efforts.

Rating: A-

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