k.d. lang
Watershed


4.0
excellent

Review

by Stephen Gore USER (43 Reviews)
February 25th, 2008 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A warm, comforting album of reflective balladry and dreamy pop that effortlessly blends all her previous works together

Improbable as it may have seemed in less enlightened times for country music to have been taken on by a Canadian lesbian, K. D. Lang‘s first musical footsteps were taken in her Patsy Cline tribute band The Reclines. Highly positive reviews have followed almost all her albums since and the critical peak came perhaps with Ingenue, which also thrust her into the spotlight of commercial success with the song ‘Constant Craving’. But eight years have passed since the last self-penned effort from Kathryn Dawn Lang, and so this latest effort can perhaps be best described as a creative pit-stop, a chance to reflect and take stock, and present a collection of songs that amalgamates all past influences into one. Almost a greatest hits collection, you might say, except one with entirely new songs.

Watershed is a cosy, reassuring album. The aural equivalent of Linus’s blanket, it blends pop, jazz, country and string-laden ballads with touches of samba and, in the case of 'Jealous Dog‘ (the most interesting song here), pure bluegrass. There’s definitely more than a nod to Ingenue in some tracks, yet ’I Dream Of Spring’ seems like three songs in one; an exotic Oriental introduction, art school sentimental verses, and steel-guitar chorus. ’Shadow And The Frame’ starts with minimalist piano, before expanding dramatically into the kinds of lush, swirling strings that you’d expect to hear in a 1940s Hollywood romance kissing scene. Elsewhere, the album is finished by the one-take bluegrass demo, ’Jealous Dog’, twanging away while going all self-deprecating, and still taking time to have a swipe at prejudice ’”I walked into a house of prayer/I didn’t feel so welcome there“

Now 46 and settled, she reflects on such time-honoured topics as love, hope and romance, but from a new perspective weathered by experience: ”Does the taste for truth/Disappear with youth/Are my efforts all but wasted fruit”, while the thrills and spills of youth are mellowed with restraint on ‘Once In A While’, declaring there will be still be happiness, smiles and general, irreverent craziness in her relationship, just ”once in a while“. She also explores her Buddhist faith on the most accessible track, ’Je Fais La Planche’, which uses a glockenspiel to great effect and boasts the kind of wistful, meditational lyrics that are to be found all over the album; ’Close Your Eyes’, ostensibly a seductive song, would do very well in a professional hypnotist's armoury. ’Coming Home‘ is more rhythmic, happily banjoing its way along verses that tell of the joy of finding yourself (and your soul mate). ’Flame Of The Uninspired’ is perhaps the best here though, great lyrics of regret of the past and burning ambitions for the future, backed by the kind of bluesy verses that make a suitable prelude to the upbeat, yet vaguely melancholy chorus. Torch 'n twang indeed.

But, as with any K. D. Lang album, her voice is what carries her from being a good singer-songwriter to being a great one. Fittingly for this album of restraint, not once does she let rip with the gargantuan operatics her voice is certainly capable of. The reason why is that it is entirely unnecessary. To say she’s in a class of her own is no overstatement; on Watershed, K. D. Lang proves once and for all that she’s one of the greatest female vocalists out there. Her voice is pitch-perfect as ever, and suits the material well, adding to the dreamy, comfort blanket feel. Which, unfortunately, can get a bit much sometimes. There’s no absence of variety in the genre-splicing, but the lethargic pace of some of the songs will undoubtedly make the casual listener hungry for the ’Constant Craving’ moment, which never arrives (’Flame Of The Uninspired’ is the closest you’ll get). Also, the album as a whole demands several listens before its many great qualities will be fully appreciated. It doesn’t blow the listener away; it takes time before the subtle layers are noticed and you actually start to say ”I like that”

On Watershed, evocative soundscapes and haunting reflections reign supreme. A lack of initial ‘oomph’ will put off those people hearing her for the first time, though her vocal perfection might draw them in. Her first self-produced work, it’s obvious that accessibility and self-aggrandisement aren’t high on her list of priorities. Her aim here is to make every song interesting and high-quality, and for the most part, she succeeds. Something of a musical investment, Watershed hits far more often than it misses and will no doubt be praised by many of her fans as her best work yet. Whether it will be appreciated by someone new to Lang depends on their persistence. However, the vocal and musical talents obvious here suggest it would be well worth the effort.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
February 25th 2008


7926 Comments


Wait a minute this isn't the new Opeth album.This Message Edited On 02.25.08

rasputin
February 25th 2008


14555 Comments


hahahaha

Arcaeus
July 2nd 2008


97 Comments


Dear God, that's a WOMAN?!?

Burn2Burn
July 2nd 2008


2378 Comments


Barely, dude. Barely.

BallsToTheWall
November 23rd 2008


44805 Comments


Totally beats the other Watershed.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

bastard
November 23rd 2008


3435 Comments


have you even heard this?

BallsToTheWall
November 23rd 2008


44805 Comments


Some of it. What's not to love about a 50 year old lady who looks exactly like my high school weight training coach.

bastard
November 23rd 2008


3435 Comments


and you're calling it album of the year on Snackary's list?

lolzy.

KILL
February 5th 2009


72090 Comments


awesome album man

Digging: Steve Hackett - Out of the Tunnel's Mouth

upagainstthewall
May 4th 2009


839 Comments


Haha, this is nearly as annoying as the goddamn frog.

Asiatic667
May 4th 2009


4648 Comments


I can't believe that's a woman. the person on the cover looks like john cusack

Asiatic667
May 4th 2009


4648 Comments


but not

Fire Away
May 4th 2009


293 Comments


there's actually a guy who looks exactly like her. he was in a KFC ad

upagainstthewall
May 4th 2009


839 Comments


Most men seem to resemble her, because she is a man.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


8387 Comments


I would almost like to hear this, almost

upagainstthewall
May 4th 2009


839 Comments


Almost being the key word I assume?

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


8387 Comments


yaah

jingledeath
May 4th 2009


7104 Comments


I would probably 5 this as well

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


8387 Comments


This thread is making me disquieting. Maybe it has just forced me to check this out lol

upagainstthewall
May 4th 2009


839 Comments


It's a bit like that



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