Written By: Filip Teovanovic
Originality: (5 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5 / 5) Lyrics: (5 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (5 / 5)
Fifteen minutes from my house, right across the hill, there is a small valley. I like to walk my two pugs in that valley. The forest on the top of the valley creates a natural wall and provides me with isolation and peace; an oasis from the cacophony of city noises. Don’t get me wrong, I love cities with all of their dirt and chaos, but it feels good to have oasis where you can immerse in nature and gently remind yourself that we have all crawled from the ocean. We are the creatures of nature, no matter how much we indulge in social climbing. Walking on what was vineyard thirty years ago, I was listening to the album that is not only one of the year’s best releases, but also maybe one of the best records I have ever heard. When art invites you to dissolve your ego in it, when you forget who you are and get lost in the beauty of music, it is difficult to find words to articulate complex emotional structure that generated inside of your little art-seeking heart. This is an album that you simply have to surrender to.
case/lang/veirs was released almost a year ago, yet I found time to fully dedicate my soul to it only few weeks ago. When you see which artists stand behind it, the grand beauty of it isn’t a surprise anymore. Ever since her masterpiece debut Blackbird came out 14 years ago, Neko Case has been one of my favorite female musicians. Until now, she had released more than 15 albums. Most of those are solo albums, while the rest fall into discography of The New Pornographers. I believe I don’t have to introduce k.d.lang to anyone who is familiar with good music. She has 12 full length studio albums, one soundtrack, live album, few compilations and several collaborations with other artists. On the other hand, I did not hear about Laura Veirs before this record, even though she is the proud owner of 9 solo albums. Most of the lyrics you will find on case/lang/veirs are penned by Veirs. Her husband Tucker Martine played guitar, produced the album and gathered all the musicians who participated in the process of recording.
Since the opening track “Atomic Number”, it is clear that we are dealing with an album of outstanding divinity. Rich alt of k.d.lang, delicate soprano of Laura Veirs and recognizable, robust vocal of Neko Case intertwine and complement each other while merging into harmonies just as chemical elements coalesce into chemical mixtures. The song is about elements with the same atomic number, an allegory for soulmates. It is easy to decode which one of these women wrote a particular song.
“Delirium” sounds like the best song Neko Case has ever created, while the same applies to “Honey and Smoke” and “Why Do We Fight” written by k.d.lang. Rare are the moments when you instantly fall in love with what you are listening. It happened to me only few times. First time was with Hope Sandoval, and the second time with Mazzy Star. The last time, at least for now, is when I heard “Song for Judee” sung by Laura Veirs. Her delicate and crystallize clear vocal, supported by perfect melodies, trigger warmth and make the world seem like amicable place, at least for a couple of minutes. “Best Kept Secret”, a remarkable a la Camera Obscura pop number with gorgeous string arrangements is perfect example for this escapism. Incredible cohesion of these three artists is omnipresent on each song.
Our experience of music is vastly determined by our personality, our proclivities, our tastes, moods and current moment. Yet, the epic quality of case/lang/veirs is universal and independent of these variables. It operates through beauty and simplicity equivalent to walk in the beautiful green valley in the middle of the busy city.