Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: Anti-
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
It’s been three years since Neko Case’s triumphant The Worse Things Get, three years since Laura Veirs’ Warp & Weft, and five since Canadian treasure and country stalwart k.d. lang’s Sing It Loud, so you might assume the collective hunger for all three to release new music augured the synergistic meeting of minds that birthed case/lang/veirs. In reality, lang drew them together years back, inspired by The Traveling Wilburys (of course), and they’ve been tending to their collaborative project for long enough that it can bear fruits with a depth of flavour rarely seen from supergroups.
The term 'super group' is overrated. But, like with most things, there are always exceptions to the rule. The last time I used this term earnestly was for Pfarmers. And this instance is the pinnacle of what it means to be a fully collaborative and cohesive unit when it comes to tapping into that primal well known as music.
It was k.d. lang who had the crazy (wonderful) idea: Neko Case, Laura Veirs and she should make a record together. It took the songwriting supergroup three years, but here it is — and it actually lives up to expectations.On opener "Atomic Number," the three singers' distinct voices swap lines: lang's rich alto, Veirs' delicate, breathy yet steady voice and Case's torchy wail overlapping and combining together, much like the pure elements they're using as metaphors.
It begins innocuously enough - a simple plucked guitar line, followed by a languid beat. Then the voices start layering up one-by-one - the first, deep and commanding, the second sweeter and more tentative, the last simply devastating - all telling you what not to expect from its three main players for the next forty minutes: “I’m not the freckled maid.” “I’m not the fair-haired girl.” “I’m not a pan of milk for you to spoil.” This is how you start an album. "Atomic Number", the track which opens case/lang/veirs, is the perfect way to lead the listener into this captivating collaboration between three of North America's finest songwriters - kd lang, Laura Veirs and Neko Case.
Review Summary: Just trying to put a hand to where we are.The greatest compliment one can pay to case/lang/veirs is that it somehow lives up to expectations. Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs aren’t exactly the type of artists that need introductions; unlike when Case joined a little group of Canadians with cult followings called the New Pornographers in 1999, use of the term “supergroup” here is more than appropriate.
It takes more than great vocalists to make a great vocal collaboration. “You have to make sure your voices together don’t sound like Gene Simmons singing with Scooby-Doo,” the singer Jesse Malin once told me, referring to his duet with Bruce Springsteen on “Broken Radio.” That’s not a problem for Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs, whose unexpected partnership has yielded a stunner of a debut.
“Supergroup” is a flawed term, implying a Justice League of musicians banding together to use their powers for good. Most newly minted collaborations shy away from its grandiose implications (and perhaps you'd be right to suspect the motives of any who didn't). In reality, these projects often start from much smaller stakes: a chance to escape your natural creative instincts, and ultimately better understand them.
It’s easy to imagine that case/lang/veirs is a long-running outfit rather than a quick collaboration. The three singers and songwriters—Neko Case, k. d. lang, and Laura Veirs—each have their own long histories as solo artists and had only briefly come together before. Here, though, they blend ….
While the a collaboration was first mooted several years ago, it was only when kd lang and Neko Case contributed to Laura Veirs’ underrated 2013 album Warp & Weft that the idea really took hold. The only problem with the resultant 14-song collection is that you wish they’d got together sooner. There’s not a weak track here, the songwriters clearly inspired by a bit of healthy competition.
A quick glance at the track listing of ‘super group’ case/lang/veirs’ eponymous debut reveals a preoccupation with the elemental, the sublime and the mysterious, ‘Atomic Number’, ‘Best Kept Secret’ and ‘Supermoon’ being a few choice titles. The record’s artwork itself is striking in this respect, featuring surreal, otherworldly landscapes of fire and ice. The music is full of lush strings, harmonies and striking lyrical imagery, creating portraits of worlds and lives within which to get lost.
Crosby, Stills & Nash notwithstanding, there is something arid in naming a band after a trio of surnames. It is as though the talents contained within were merely actuarial rather than musical, the stuff of respectability rather than transcendence. As a consequence, this matter of factly named album, the debut by a supergroup of Americana artists, under-promises, giving little hint of the yearning, devastation or natural phenomena swirling within.
Several years ago, “on a whim”, kd lang emailed Neko Case and Laura Veirs to ask if they’d be interested in working with her. The approach first bore fruit when Case and Lang guested on Veirs’ 2013 album, Warp and Weft, and has now produced this wonderful 14-tracker. Their pure, alternating voices compliment each other perfectly, and when they come together in harmony, the results are glorious.
This self-titled, one-off album from Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs arrives with an air of inevitability, built of songs that have seemingly always existed and just needed the right context to emerge. Throughout case/lang/veirs, the three singer-songwriters borrow from a history of kindred souls—from doo-wop's call-and-response song structure to the aching, three-part harmonies of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris on Trios I and II—to craft an album that knowingly winks at girl groups past, yet also works considerable raw material from Case, Lang, and Veirs's own bones.
Had Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs recorded only the track "Atomic Number," it's hard to imagine them even considering not going further. With a stark acoustic guitar and electronic beat, they trade vocals to begin: "I'm not the freckled maid/I'm not the fair-haired girl/I'm not a pan of milk for you to spoil." Their voices combine for rich harmony on the chorus, and as with the rest of the record, it's a joy to hear them come together.
When artists of note collaborate on a project, the greatest obstacle is usually balance. The participants may truly respect one another, but as talent, ego, and personality enter the picture, someone is inevitably going to dominate the proceedings, and someone else will end up in the shadows. Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs seem keenly aware of this on the album case/lang/veirs, an album of songs the three singers and songwriters wrote and recorded between 2013 and 2015.
There’s a warm, diffuse glow to the self-titled debut album from case/lang/veirs, the understated supergroup (can there be such a thing?) composed of Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs. Each of these songwriters has an impressive legacy and a spotlight to call her own if she wants it, but their current project seems uninterested in chasing individual accolades.
“A pail of milk, symbols of infinity, the city bus, shoulders burning in the window, honey in your ear, moths with their tattered wings, Hollywood cowboy stars, beloved books strewn around.” The recent supergroup collaboration from celebrated singer-songwriters Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs is saturated with the scent of summer. Nearly every noun is a sip of lemonade, by careful design.
Welcome to the dark underbelly of the pretty unfair industry cycle that shoves Radiohead and Queen Bey and Views and that Apple Music independent contractor Chance the Rapper down our collective throats. You can’t really engage with music in 2016 without knowing about those records, but now that ….
"case/lang/veirs" is the first album from Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs. "case/lang/veirs" is the first album from Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs.. It started with an email from k.d. lang to a couple of singers she knew and admired, Neko Case and Laura Veirs. A few years later, the ….
Who ever expected a musical collaboration between vocal powerhouse singer/songwriters k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs? According to legend (or press releases), the inspired match-up began after lang reached out to acquaintances Case and Veirs to say they should make a record together. Apparently ever since working with Roy Orbison, lang had dreamed about someday having her own version of the Traveling Wilburys.