Album of the Week: case/lang/veirs, 'case/lang/veirs'

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case lang veirs, 'case lang veirs'
case/lang/veirs, 'case/lang/veirs' (ANTI-)

When I first heard that Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs had collaborated on a new album, I couldn't wait to hear three distinctive voices and musicians working together. It's a combination that I didn't see coming, but in reality, it's been years in the making, culminating with the release of their self-titled case/lang/veirs, coming out on Friday, June 17.

Several years ago, the collaboration was sparked by an email from lang to Case and Veirs: "I think we should make a record together." It was instant agreement on the part of Case and Veirs, and the trio was born. Shortly after, both lang and Case contributed to Veirs' 2013 record Warp and Weft. Then, over the course of two and a half years, the three worked on what is now case/lang/veirs. The album was written in Portland, Ore., at lang's loft (complete with a view of Mount St. Helens) and Veirs' dining room and backyard studio, and it was produced by Veir's husband, Tucker Martine.

"Delirium" was the first song they wrote together, and its inspiration was a bit random: Veirs and lang were on a walk looking for ideas when they stumbled upon a place that sold fireworks; one of the fireworks being sold was named "Delirium." The two started putting the song together and Case, who lives in Vermont and tours frequently, offered subtle, yet vivid changes to lyrics to create the finished product. For example, the line, "the walls are kaleidoscoping in" was originally "the walls are falling in."

As three alpha-personalities used to leading their own projects, working on the album together created challenges, but served to make it an even better record. Not every song is three-part harmonies with equal time. "Atomic Number" is the best example of a truly collaborative track with equal time for each, but many songs feature either Case, lang or Veirs on lead, and in the songwriting process, the rest of the members complemented one another, yielding a strong result.

Veirs takes the lead in "Song for Judee," a story of folk-rock singer Judee Sill, who was signed to David Geffen's Asylum Records and released two albums in the '70s before dying from a drug overdose in 1979. "Honey and Smoke" is distinctly a lang track with her soft, floating melodies and her soothing voice complemented by Case and Veir's harmonies. Case stands out on "Supermoon," a characteristically powerful ballad that sounds like it could easily be on a solo album.

(And if you've been wondering — as I have — who the best kept secret in Silver Bay is, it's West Coast guitarist Timothy Young, who has played with Beck, Fiona Apple, and John Legend, as well as on this record.)

As a trio, the Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs have found a balance between remaining distinctive while still complementing one another, and in many moments, they create a fourth voice, which is heard particularly on the tracks "I Want to Be Here" and "Atomic Number."

The end result of the collaboration of three artists with different backgrounds and experiences is a beautiful collection of songs with different moods and one personality - distinctive, individual songs that still comprise a cohesive album.

Audience ratings for this album


Among The Current's listeners who submitted a rating for this album, 83 percent gave the album 5 out of 5 stars. Poll closed at 12 p.m. on Friday, June 17.

1 Photos

  • case lang veirs
    case/lang/veirs are (L to R) Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs (Jason Quigley)

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