The record company's advertisements brag that while everyone expected this collection to be just a movie soundtrack, "the project transformed into something no one expected: the new k.d. lang album." Well, maybe--if you were expecting the next k.d. lang album to consist mostly of short instrumental pieces.
Of 16 tracks, only seven are full-fledged vocal numbers. These tend toward the thin yet charming: Several are in the languid, balladic vein of "Ingenue," albeit with a lighter lyrical touch. And with more of Greg Leisz's steel guitar back in the mix, you can hear lang's hybridizing instincts further coalescing into a style that's all hers--Connie Francis on the Plains, or cabaret-and-Western.
Off that track, the two furthest stylistic stretches provide a weird pair of polar vocal highlights: "Don't Be a Lemming Polka," her first all-out hoedown in a while, and "Just Keep Me Moving," her first stab at disco (!).
But the varied and lackluster instrumental cues--which evoke more assured soundtrack stalwarts from Mark Isham to Ennio Morricone--suggest, predictably, that it will take more than one try for lang and co-writer and producer Ben Mink to develop a firm knack for film underscoring. Oh, well: Half of the next lang album's better than none.
New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).