MAGNET’s #3 Album Of 2016: case/lang/veirs’ “case/lang/veirs”

caselangveirs

How could any one-off supergroup ever aspire to be more than the sum of its parts, even one that combines the idiosyncratic talents of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs? Yet case/lang/veirs’ self-titled album is a winning argument for individuals being stronger together in a year when we so desperately needed that sentiment to be true. It works by giving each woman enough space to do what she does best with solid sonic support from a punchy backing band (including Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche), a pair of string sections and exquisite backing vocals from her counterparts. Case is as guarded and tender as ever when she takes the lead on tracks like “Supermoon,” while lang’s languid, longing voice turns everything she touches into a torch song, whether her doomed lovers are separated by a dance floor (“Honey And Smoke”) or something more tangible (“1,000 Miles Away”). And though Veirs, the only contributor with full or partial songwriting credit on all 14 tracks, keeps the most accessible moment (“Best Kept Secret”) to herself, it’s the opening “Atomic Number” that serves as the most majestic, enduring proof of this chemistry experiment gone oh so right.

—M.J. Fine

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