Triple Threat: k.d. lang On Music, Aging and Her New Album
Photo by Jason Quigley
In an era where music feuds dominate tabloid coverage – think Drake vs. Meek Mill, Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift, Kanye West vs. Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West vs., well, you get the idea – k.d. lang’s gift for artistic collaboration proves all the more exceptional.
A duet with Roy Orbison on the song “Crying” helped propel the Canuck songstress into the spotlight early in her career and, between solo hits like “Constant Craving,” “Miss Chatelaine” and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and racking up numerous Juno and Grammy awards – not to mention her 2013 Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction – and advocating for LGBT rights, lang’s teamed with everyone from Elton John to Anne Murray on various projects.
The 54-year-old’s latest collaboration involves a trifecta of musical talents that began with an email to American rocker Neko Case and folk singer Laura Veirs about recording together.
“The initial spark was the fact that I was a fan of both of them and that I loved their music and it spoke to me. So I try to work with people who I like,” lang says, noting both artists returned her email within half an hour.
I ask lang about her approach to music and collaboration at this stage of her career and her answer surprises me. “I’ve probably gotten more doubtful and lazier and less confident. Or maybe more picky. I think when you’re younger you feel like you can conquer the world and you’re always right. I think as I get older, and the more I sort of absorb others’ greatness, the more realize I don’t have much to offer.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she interjects after my suggestion that her fans would disagree with that sentiment, “I do feel [confident]. In fact, perhaps that’s one of the things that’s kind of contributed to my stature as of late. In terms of music business and artistic accomplishments, with the exception of a couple, I feel like I’ve done it.”
It’s a mindset that explains her decision to seek out collaboration with two other artists whose work inspires her. And now, four years later, comes case/lang/veirs, an introspective, honest collection of beautifully crafted tunes from three artists working in harmonious unity.
The trio is also set to hit the road, touring North America and making multiple Canadian stops this summer.
“It’s going to be a very festive family kind of fun atmosphere,” she says. “The fact that we were actually able to take three independent and successful artists and collaborate equally is quite a feat.”
Of course, touring at 54 is a much different experience than touring at the height of her fame decades earlier.
“I had a lot of fun back in the day because it was new and I was seeing new cities and cute girls and all that, but now it’s more difficult physically, the travel and just sleeping in different hotels every night. But,” lang says, her voice becoming lighter, “I feel like in some ways the music is more rewarding because I’m more at ease with it.”
For album and tour information, visit www.caselangveirs.com.