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Lang Clones Cline : CHECK LIST: ****Great Balls of Fire***Good Vibrations**Maybe Baby*Running on Empty

May 29, 1988|KRISTINE McKENNA

***K.D. LANG. "Shadowland." Sire. If Dolly Parton recorded an album of classic country as good as "Shadowland" they would stage a parade down the main street of Nashville. However, the fact that Canadian vocalist K.D. Lang is a former New Wave performance artist puts a slightly different spin on the ball--it makes this record feel like a "Zelig" exercise, a homage rather than the genuine article. Not that Lang isn't genuinely committed to this music and doesn't sing extremely well; she sounds, in fact, like a dead ringer for her hero, Patsy Cline.

This sentimental songbook of little-known country nuggets (one of which features guest vocalists Brenda Lee, Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn) was produced by Owen Bradley, legendary in country circles for the work he did with Cline (among others), and with him at the helm "Shadowland" replicates the mood of a Cline album perfectly. The strings sweep in at exactly the right point, the mournful pedal steel wafts out over the moonlit desert and melancholy barflies everywhere wipe away a silent tear as they immerse themselves in cool, limpid pools of sound.

It's pretty gorgeous stuff, and there is no denying that Lang understands and loves this music deeply, but therein may lie the problem. She respects this style so much that she's refrained from leaving her own thumbprint on it.

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