July 21, 2011 in Features

k.d. lang’s Siss Boom Bang lands at The Fox on Monday

Tim Smith Baltimore Sun
 
If you go

k.d. lang

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave.

Cost: $25-$69

Call: The Fox box office (509-624-1200) or TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.tickets west.com)

Of all the singers to hit the pop music scene in the past 25 years, k.d. lang continues to stand out.

There’s the timbre of her voice, a sound remarkably dark and rich and deep. Then there’s the technique, with its unfailing intonation and evenness of projection.

Add in the instinctive phrasing, whether addressing country or rock or good old standards, and lang looms large.

Monday will find lang and her new band, aptly named Siss Boom Bang, performing at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox as part of their tour in support of the recent Nonesuch Records release, “Sing It Loud.”

The album marks something of a return to lang’s early days. It’s her first record made entirely with a band of her own since her career-starting releases (with a group called the Reclines).

And the disc includes what the Canadian-born, four-time-Grammy- winning singer-songwriter calls “the cow punk thing,” the country style lang started out with in the mid-1980s.

The high-energy recording, which features songs written by lang with band members Joe Pisapia, Daniel Clarke and Joshua Grange (and a cover of Talking Heads’ “Heaven”), was made quickly in Nashville last year.

“There was so much energy in the studio,” lang, 49, said in a phone interview. “The magic was there.

“We did eight songs in three days, which is lightning speed, really. The love and positivity in the room felt so natural and so familiar. It’s rare.”

The material on the album and the tour might represent a departure from lang’s recent work.

“I must say it’s definitely louder and more raucous than what some people may be expecting,” she said. “Every record I put out is different, so it sometimes takes people a little longer to catch up. But audiences have definitely been very energetic on the tour. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Lang’s stylistic versatility is one reason she has remained such a fascinating force in the music world.

“I spent from birth to probably the age of 16 listening to my elder siblings play classical piano for hours and hours,” she said with a laugh. “My ear was very used to that.

“And the singers I admired, like Peggy Lee, Roy Orbison and Elvis – I could go on and on and on – these great singers sang many genres. That’s the mark of a good vocalist. Music was never divided by genre in my mind. It’s about singing good music …”

“There has to be a deep emotional connection between the performer and the song; it has to resonate. If you can translate it to the audience and have them react emotionally, you’ve done your job.”

Lang did that job with particular distinction when she collaborated with veteran vocal artist Tony Bennett on “It’s a Wonderful World,” a warmly expressive 2002 disc of standard pop songs.

“Working with Tony got me interested in the Great American Songbook,” she said. “With Tony leading the way, giving me the keys to the city, it felt pretty good. I have a long life ahead of me – I hope – so I’ll have a chance to do more of those songs.”

Lang is certainly doing everything she can to extend her career.

“My basic lifestyle is built about preserving my voice,” she said. “I’m something of a freak about it – eating raw fruits and vegetables, drinking coconut water, doing exercises.

“When I wake up, I start humming; humming helps get the pipes warmed up. And I never sing anything that hurts.”

Lang does have other creative outlets. Like Bennett, she paints, for example.

“But for a job, I really like doing music,” she said. “It’s a pretty nice lifestyle. On a good day, I feel like I’ll sing till I’m 90.”


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