K.D. LANG: INGÉNUE REDUX – LIVE FROM THE MAJESTIC THEATER (2019)
Featuring k.d. lang, Daniel Clarke, David Piltch, Grecco Buratto, Rich Hinman, Andrew Borger, Moorea Masa and Tahirah Memory.
Directed by Daniel E. Catullo III.
Distributed by MVD Visual. 106 minutes. Not Rated.
k.d. lang’s career was in kind of a weird place twenty-five years ago when she released the album which would become her biggest hit ever. She had released four well-respected rootsy country albums, specializing in a style which she referred to as “torch and twang.” However, despite cult fame and wonderful reviews, lang never quite fit in with the traditional Nashville scene – where her out-and-proud openly butch looks, flawless vocals and ironic songcraft didn’t have any place on radio with the current country sound. At the time country radio tended to embrace more pop-based stuff like Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, the old-school church cowboy strains of Alabama or Ronnie Milsap, or the outlaw country of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
Therefore, lang decided to throw a complete change-up with Ingénue. She did hold on to the torch, but she pretty much jettisoned the twang. Instead, she wrote a sweet and sexy cabaret album, a smart and pointed adult contemporary platter full of striking hooks, walls of strings, and lush orchestration. The album spawned lang’s first (and only, really) hit single, the gorgeously longing “Constant Craving,” which finally earned lang the radio play and the headlining status that she had long yearned for.
In 2017, for the 25th anniversary of Ingénue, lang did a series of shows in which she performed the album in full, as well as several other songs. This video shares one of these shows, from the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas.
The first thing you are reminded of in this revisit of Ingénue is how wonderful the rest of the album was beyond just “Constant Craving,” though that is pretty much the only song on this collection that still gets any regular airplay. (“Constant Craving” has been so ubiquitous over the years that the Rolling Stones even inadvertently nicked its chorus for their song “Anybody Seen My Baby.”)
However, from the first notes, the immediacy of the torch ballad “Mind of Love (Where Is Your Head, Kathryn?)” is so quietly devastating and yet so gorgeous you just want to cry listening to it. Lang’s vocals are still as gorgeously wounded as they had been years before and time stands still. It’s 1992 all over again.
Time also stands still for the swaying, lilting “Miss Chatelaine,” the second single from the original album, which should have been HUGE in a more just world. However, the ageless samba beats and pitch-perfect vocals still stun.
Other classics are the devastatingly morose and beautiful “Still Thrives This Love” and the swooning, honied alt-pop of “Save Me.”
After finishing up with Ingénue, lang finishes up with the gorgeous, swaying “Honey and Smoke,” from her then-recent supergroup album with Neko Case and Laura Veirs called… unsurprisingly… case/lang/viers. She also shares the luscious original “I Dream of Spring” from her 2008 album Watershed.
Then lang performed several covers from her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel, lang’s tribute to fellow Canadian singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. lang wraps her supple vocals over such classics as Mitchell’s “Help Me,” Young’s “Helpless” and Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and comes as close to making them her own as is possible with those legendary, well-known songs. Particularly impressive was her take of “Hallelujah,” which ranks up with Cohen and Jeff Buckley’s iconic performances of that oft-performed chestnut. In fact, vocally, lang’s performance is even better.
Despite her songwriting chops and awesome vocal skills, k.d. lang’s career never took off to the extent that Ingénue promised 25 years ago. However, it was the change of musical direction that resulted in a long-respected and impressive career that lasts to this day. (I can’t quite see people lining up for her Absolute Torch and Twang sound all these years later.) Ingénue Redux is a nice reminder of why k.d. lang still matters. Still thrives her music.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 6, 2019.