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Album Review

An Adventurous Balance

*** K.D. LANG, "Invincible Summer," Warner Bros.

June 11, 2000|ROBERT HILBURN

Like most quality artists, lang is most compelling when she's edging toward emotional extremes--either challenging pop sensibilities as she did with her early cowgirl-punk approach or by revisiting familiar pop terrain (such as Roy Orbison's "Crying" or Cole Porter's "So in Love") with an intensity that is flat-out haunting.

On "Invincible Summer" (which will arrive in stores on June 20), lang stays closer to the mainstream with music that lulls and caresses rather than shakes or rattles. The connection with her best work is her continuing adventurousness. Produced by Damian leGassick, the album balances smart, sophisticated traces of electronica with the easy flow of highly accessible pop.

Love is the theme of these songs (most of them written or co-written by lang), but the tone is celebration and wonder rather than the usual heartbreak or regret. The imagery may be a bit grandiose in places (as in "Love's Great Ocean"), but lang's singing is so convincing and warm that the songs are like testimonials to the fact that things can work out.

"Take my advice . . . ," she sings in the closing track. "Only love can bring you down, and only love brings you back around."

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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