It was a k.d. lang crowd at Britt Sunday night. That was clear from the moment Lang, after proclaiming, “We’re gonna sex you up,” danced around while singing “Atomic Number” from case/lang/veirs, the new album the three singers just released.
In blue shirt, black pants and barefoot, lang sang, “Why are the wholesome things/the ones we make obscene?” as she moved around the stage.
It’s a fair bet that more than a few people were getting introduced to Neko Case and Laura Veirs. Case, an avant-indie rocker, lent lovely harmonies all night and sang leads on songs such as “Delirium,” another song off the new album, and one that found lang and Veirs singing the ooh-ooh backup parts.
Veirs is a singer-songwriter who broke through with 2004’s “Carbon Glacier” and 2005’s “Year of Meteors.” She was a force to be reckoned with all night, playing guitars and taking turns with lang and Case on leads and backup chores.
The case/lang/veirs project had its birth about three years ago, when lang sent the other two an email that read, “I think we should make a record together.”
The three collaborated over the next couple of years, and the resulting album was just released on the Anti-Records label. The women are touring in support of it, as the first seven or eight songs testified.
“Honey and Smoke” found lang courting the audience, to their delight. Veirs’ “Song for Judee” was a tribute to Judee Sill, a ‘60s/‘70s singer-songwriter who died before her time. The upbeat tune bounced happily along in stark contrast to the lyrics.
“Down I-5,” with Case handling lead chores, is a song that’s sure to wind up in a lot of people’s road mixes.
lang’s impassioned version of Neil Young’s “Helpless” brought the house down and gave a crack backup band a chance to stretch a bit. “Man,” a Case song in which the singer takes on another identity, rocked harder and took the show to another level.
Some voices seem made to harmonize with each other. Simon and Garfunkel; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Tony Bennett and almost anybody. You could make a case for Case, lang and Veirs.
So it’s hard to understand why their singing is rendered with such heavy reverb. That’s impossible not to notice on the album, and it was true at Britt, as well. And these women would sing great in the shower. Just sayin’.
Bill Varble writes about arts and entertainment for the Mail Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.