Saturday, June 19, 2010

Laurie Anderson - Homeland

I'm not fully there with it yet, but here's why this one's different than the last few - unlike everything released since Strange Angels, this one's not so much about Laurie Anderson, but is about the world she lives in. She's engaging a bigger and more vital picture of the United States like nothing since her early days on record - something that might have been as perfectly timed as her humor if it had been released as originally announced when Bush Jr. was still in office. But still - she's actively making an effort to speak not just to her cult of fans (like me) but to everyone and I'd say she mostly succeeds.

If you've listened to anything she's been doing lately you'll recognize the shimmering, quiet keyboard backgrounds that have been a big part of her music since The Ugly One With the Jewels and Other Stories, but in addition to making an effort to talk about things outside her comfort zone, she's making music outside of it too - the backgrounds are there yes, but they're not all that's there. If this were as pop-friendly as Strange Angels, she might even make the crossover move this seems like it could be with just a few more hooks, but it's still an effort to reach out while still keeping touch with her core audience - those who want arty recitative over arty music. I don't have the credits in my promo, but I know Lou Reed, John Zorn, and Antony are there in the mix and they all help make this album diverse, interesting, engaging and, yeah, arty too. She's got nothing as aggressive or dancy as "Only An Expert" anywhere in her entire recorded catalog, and she has very little as ambitious - and also very little as good - as the quiet recitative of the eleven and a half minutes of "Another Day in America" either. It's a good one for sure, her best in a long time, but I'm still not 100% sure that it's great. But if like me you've been waiting a long time for a new, good Laurie album, you're definitely gonna like it.

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