There are several good reasons to make the trek to downtown Fort Worth to catch k.d. lang, chief among them the ideal merging of artist and venue: Her sumptuous vocal artistry fits perfectly and warmly inside the acoustic flawlessness of Bass Performance Hall, like your daughter's hand in yours as you walk her to school. But what excites me most about this gig is that I'll finally be able to purge from memory the overriding image I have of lang: a video of her at an airport, sitting in a corner, crying with her hands over her face as a pack of paparazzi circle her and snap shot after intrusive shot.Even though it was disturbing, the distress she was undergoing seemed weirdly reflective of the k.d. lang of the early '90s. After transferring her kitschy Kitty Wells-meets-Brenda Lee sound from indie C&W albums to her mildly successful label debut Angel With a Lariat
in 1987, as well as with the subsequent Shadowland
and Absolute Torch & Twang
, lang went all moody-pop with 1992's Ingenue
. Even though this transformation marked her biggest career success--"Constant Craving" is still her biggest radio hit, one that garnered her a Grammy Award--lang's autobiographical songwriting style ("Save Me," "Season of Hollow Soul") revealed a deeply funked-up woman. By '95, the wonderfully titled All You Can Eat
, with its full-bore fun pop sensibilities, suggested that her malaise--which, make no mistake, produced some splendid sounds of heartbreak and sin--was waning.
Now, with her latest release, Invincible Summer, it seems the Canuck has finally learned to enjoy life, something she attributes to her four-year relationship with actress-singer Leisha Hailey of L.A.'s The Murmurs, as well as her cool new Cali beach home. Although the CD's title was taken from an Albert Camus essay, it is in no way pretentious. Her dazzling voice is now layered with keyboard-driven beats (courtesy of Brit producer Damian LeGassick) that at once call to mind Madonna and The Mamas & The Papas. It gives lang, through songs such as "Summerfling" and "Extraordinary Thing," a bounce and giggle that suits her sound well. Apologies to Roy Orbison, but I like her better when she's not crying.