You don't have to like country music to appreciate k.d. lang's extraordinary talent. Produced by country veteran Owen Bradley, this was arguably the recording that put her on the map, with Bradley's super-polished array of songs highlighting her crystal-clear instrument and winning her millions of new fans. Since this CD, she has ventured far and wide, but to many, this will be remembered as the project where it all began.
The title track sets the tone, tapping into country music's wells of melancholy, although Lang's demeanor, persona and voice can't really be put squarely in the country camp. Her influences are much broader, including contemporaries like Chris Isaak, whose suave "Western Stars" opens the disc. Throughout, lang mixes hardcore country -- check out the opening chorus in the lovely "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" -- with what might be characterized as "1940's lounge," and sounds glorious. She could be equally at home in a smoky night club or at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry.
By the time the stunning "Busy Being Blue" arrives, you may think you've never heard a voice like this. After a quiet introduction, the song builds until lang is completely engulfed in a rapturous, torchy wail. This is simply great singing, whatever genre. The final track, "Honky Tonk Angels," features Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells, whose winsome, plaintive harmonies end the set on a sentimental high note.
The recorded sound is beautifully clear, fully capturing lang's huge cries as well as her quieter moments of lazy sensuality. From an artist who has done many fine recordings, this is one of her best, with influences new and old, and also one of the great recordings of the 1980's.