On their self-titled collaborative release, Neko Case, K. D. Lang, and Laura Veirs place themselves in a lush, folk sound aesthetic, each of them sharing the spotlight to allow their voices and lyricism to sing out together. The songs touch upon some semi-cliche folk topics, but there’s always an element of freshness as the group avoids trends rather chasing a sound true to the art-form.
One of the astounding aspects of this album is the instrumentation and production. The group effortlessly combines sweeping strings and gritty guitars with their strumming folk foundation. Despite the active instrumental parts, the strong lead vocals never become hidden and the group still maintains a sense of subtlety. Perhaps, the method of trading lead vocal responsibilities provides a perfect metaphor for the circulating instrumental conception. Rather than having every instrument heavily involved with every song, the group selectively brings in sounds to provide a developmental feel to the album.
“Delirium” was certainly a highlight. Case’s dreary melody is matched by distant vocals and symphonic guitar sounds. The song is directed at a love interest of her’s, one who has nothing to offer but unrequited love, but she is unable to see this, thus placing her in a delirious state. The dark cloud surrounding Case’s lyrics match the sound aesthetic that she is playing with.
Overall, I liked this album a lot upon first listen. The various instrumentation and vocal combinations made for a folk album writhe with contrast. Sometimes these all star album releases can result in a competition for attention, but this group of brilliant songwriters clearly put musicality first making for a very enjoyable listening experience.