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k.d. lang, Sans the Twang

March 15, 1992|CHRIS WILLMAN

k.d. lang


Warner Bros .

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Lang used to claim she was channeling the spirit and voice of Patsy Cline. Now, perhaps, Edith Piaf has pirated the frequency.

Lang's last album--and perhaps her last as a "country" artist--was winkingly called "Absolute Torch and Twang," but this very different follow-up is all torch 'n' hardly a hint of twang. Despite holding over Greg Leisz's steel guitar and some loping, dusty-trail rhythms, the eccentric Canadian songstress is headed well away from Nashville with "Ingenue," made up entirely of tortured, philosophical, very languid pop balladry.

This sustained somberness may even remind some of the hip, easy-listening styles of Julia Fordham or Everything but the Girl, though lang still has an ear trained by Cline as well as Julie Budd. You'll also suspect that lang--who wrote or co-wrote all these songs--has been spending a lot of time with Cole Porter, on whose recent tribute album she sang.

Be warned that the heavy-handedness of the lyrics tends to drag this already pensive album into latent somnambulism. Still, "Ingenue" is a crafty reinvention of self on lang's part, and her exquisite vocal chops--as well as some lovely harmony writing--thoroughly sustain this exercise in high-minded torch singing. So long, chaps and spurs, and howdy--er, bon jour --to the wounded songbird.

Albums are rated on a scale one star (poor) to four (excellent).

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