Laurie Anderson: Homeland (Nonesuch) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Laurie Anderson

Homeland

Nonesuch

Aug 31, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Laurie Anderson has a gift for creating evocative recordings. Her multi-media live performances may have the benefit of added visuals but the storytelling aspect of Anderson's albums can just as easily draw a listener out of a purely aural experience.

Homeland may seem to play at times like an end-times discourse on the state of the nation, but Anderson's not that much of a defeatist. She plays host in a taking of stock, of standing aside and surveying what passes as "progress," of running a finger along the nation's deep wrinkles.

In "Another Day In America," Anderson uses her oft-used voice filter to ruminate as the "Voice of Authority" (as she calls it in the album's notes). Stretching nearly 12 minutes, the deep, sad Voice offers its troubled philosophical viewpoint over an unobtrusive electronic backing, and while such a creative prospect might have been wickedly tiresome in the wrong hands, Anderson imbues enough humor and balance to make it work.

Musically, the album is generally very subtle, with keyboards, percussion, and Anderson's strings providing a backing that's built to support the artist's musings. In a way, it's similar to how jazz players sometimes supported comedians over the years; the music here works well to enhance or to counterbalance Anderson, underscoring how these tracks often play as aural performance art rather than conventional songs.

Over the course of roughly an hour, the glacial-to-moderate pace may lose some listeners along the way, but rewards come from setting aside the time to settle in for the full flight, as with the slow build on the more personal "The Lake." A separate DVD disc includes a documentary that explores the making of Homeland and "Laurie's Violin," a shorter film focusing on Anderson's relationship with her chosen instrument. (www.laurieanderson.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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