case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs (4 stars)

Engaging, cosmic, alt-country album from the harmonic trio who each make their remarkable presence felt

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Case/lang/veirs – Case/lang/veirs

What a difference a mail makes. Without an innocuous cyber-message – penned by rodeo pop poet k.d. lang, and dispatched, as she puts it, ‘on a whim’ – this lovely, cosmic alt-country album would not exist. Nor would the Americana supergroup behind it, starring lang and fellow rock‘n’roll wranglers Neko Case (The New Pornographers) and Laura Veirs. And don’t be misled by the lower-case styled case/lang/veirs nomenclature: there is plenty to shout about here.

Take the album’s opening lines, on sublime twilight porch-song, ‘Atomic Number’: ‘I’m not the freckled maid / I’m not the fair-haired girl / I’m not a pan of milk for you to spoil’, the harmonic trio sing in turn, each making their remarkable presence felt, while creating (or leaving) space for the others.

The album works best when they follow this economic trajectory; when there’s room around their melodies and harmonies and words. Highlights include stellar torch song ‘Supermoon’, drive-pop shimmy ‘Best Kept Secret’, space-cowboy psalm ‘Down 1-5’ (an echoing serenade to the ‘endless night’), and, perhaps most strikingly, sparse-piano lament ‘Blue Fires’ – a welcome addition to great recent(ish) treatises on the colour (see also: Chvrches’ ‘Clearest Blue’, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Rebecca Solnit’s The Blue Of Distance), which explore life, loss and language through the power of blue, shot through by its perfect rhyming with ‘you’. (‘The hottest part of this flame burns blue / why do blue fires burn in me / yet not in you?’)

As with so many country hymns on this warm, engaging album, ‘Blue Fires’ is preoccupied with finding (or losing) ourselves: in our hearts, in nature, in the galaxy (‘how can the prairie flocks keep their courses true / and navigate the stars as they do?), and it takes on the heavens in ‘Behind The Armory’. ‘We’ll make new constellations’, they sing, on an album made of stars.

Out Fri 17 Jun on Anti-.

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