on 11 April 2006
I bought this after reading a couple of the reviews on Amazon. I had never heard it. I am glad I did! Superb! Beautiful! I didn't think she could carry off the Joni Mitchell number, and it did take a bit of getting used to, but that is my only teeny criticism of this album. Her voice carries you to somewhere else. Poignant, it will tear you apart in places. This is my first K.D Lang album, though I have long admired her. Thank you to the reviewers who recommended this stunning album. BUY IT! Don't miss these vocals that will wrench your heart out! Bliss.
on 30 July 2004
Whatever other music is still to come out the rest of 2004, "Hymns of the 49th Parallel," must be considered one of the most remarkable albums of any genre, that will be released this year.
These are the reasons for such ambitious statement, first it's the welcomed return to recording from one of the most utterly gifted, versatile and intelligent voices in popular music; secondly, the choice of material is nothing less than sublime -each of these composers could have offer an entire album of nothing but stunning songs of their own. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the foresight in these choices showed that Lang knows what is meaningful and poetic as well as she understands what she has the right chops to pay tribute to, in such way that the songs can only grow in depth and beauty.
As you must know by now, this is a Canadian songbook, each song -except for for the self-penned "Simple" which is quite great in its own right- from people who have influenced her and so many of us deeply.
Now, there's another, perhaps less obvious, theme in these songs. They represent some of the most moving and beautifully crafted songs about love in all its tones and moods and longings, ever written.
It's about the ecstasy for the beloved in "A Case of You" ("Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine / You taste so bitter and so sweet / Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling"), to "Hallelujah"'s wise recognnition of the deep pain that love might cause us ("It's not a cry you hear at night / It's not somebody who's seen the light / It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah").
It's also about the longing to belong ("One day I walk in flowers / One I walk on stones / Today I walk in hours / One day I shall be home") that Cockburn's "One Day I Walk" speaks about and the utter surrendering in "Fallen" (You opened your arms like a school door to summer days / And opened my heart to the rumours of a higher place / Now, where was I, baby, I've fallen for you").
Each song here conjures up a singular image of all that, if we've been lucky, we have felt when we loved. Love that inspired us, or bruised us, or kept us wanting more.
Songs written by women and men with an incredible gift for saying that we know but could not say ourselves when love happened. All coming together gorgeously through the subtle touch of Ben Mink's production, the wide-range palette of Eumir Deodato's string arrangements and, first and fundamentally, thanks to k.d. lang's beautiful, understated, and sublime voice.
This is by far her most inspired and mature singing in years. Noting the obvious musical differences inherent to the material chosen, these are probably her most beautiful renditions since "Shadowland" or "Absolute Torch and Twang"
"So -as Jane Siberry writes in "Love if Everything"-- tale a lesson from the strangeness you feel / And know you'll never be the same / And find it in your heart to kneel down and say / I gave my love didn't I?"
k.d. lang certainly did.
on 9 June 2005
K D lang is probably the best white female popular singer around. Sure she no longer hits the charts like she did in the 80's but that is no indication of a drop in standards in fact its the opposite. She has a beautiful voice and although she is interpretating other singer/songwriters songs I can't think of anyone I would rather hear sing them. My personal opinion is that her version of 'hallelujah' is better that the original the orchestration works and it now has just the right amount of contemporary feel. 'A case of you' has some of the most gorgeous lyrics she sings 'I could drink a case of you' and you really believe her it makes you shiver (in a good way).
Wow she great. enjoy!!!!!
on 14 January 2008
This is a lovely album, one which I have put off buying for years thanks to less than fulsome praise for it in the quality music monthlies at the time of its release. k.d. lang's career has been patchy and varied, moving from the torch and twang of her early country flavours and reaching a high point of chanteuse sophistication in Ingenue. This is her best offering since then; perfectly chosen songs with a Canadian songwriter theme that suit the effortless rise and fall of her voice. Close your eyes, or turn out the lights, and the music bathes you and relaxes you. Somewhere out there is a full Neil Young covers album waiting for k.d. lang to make it; meanwhile, the perfect choice of 'After The Goldrush' and 'Helpless' will have to do. Other standouts include versions of Joni Mitchell's 'A Case Of You', Jane Siberry's 'The Valley' and especially Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. The album breaks no new ground; but why should it, when the music and voice are this good. At the current prices quoted on Amazon, you have little to lose.
on 3 May 2011
When I first bought this, I was a little disappointed, though I shouldn't have been: the cover art perfectly anticipated the content. I found it practically comatose in its elegiac stateliness; I didn't know any of the backstory, the hymn to Canadian songwriting. I resisted what I heard then as showing a lack of vigour; I wanted more country; I wanted more joy.
But now I blame my initial reaction on being at slightly the wrong age. Some seven years on, I finally get it. Now, I understand it is the apex of a great singer's work: a woman at the height of her craft, diving into deceptively simple, deceptively slow moving rivers of songs, moving through them with that appearance of ease that is the mark of a master of tone and control. Her renditions of these songs, very few of which were known to me, evokes bleak, wide open spaces, long buried emotions, that may be intended to be uniquely Canadian but which, at their best, are bigger even than that. This music calls up a state of mind for which I think some languages have special words.
So, I think you have to be in the right place in your life (or perhaps the wrong?) to like this. I'm so glad I bought it before single track downloading became normal: had I scanned individual tracks I'd never have bought it, and as a result would have missed stand-out tracks like the monumentally building "Helpless" with its repetitive crescendo of emotion; and, being a country fan, the dirge-like tonal simplicity of "One Day I Will Walk". I remain indifferent to one or two tracks, and I prefer live recordings I've heard of her "Hallelujah", but this is nit picking: it's a masterfully delivered gift of love and sadness.
on 10 August 2004
At first I wasn't sure about this album, but after the 2nd play I found myself loving it. It is a very "quiet" album compared to other k.d. albums. None of the songs exactly punch out like "Constant Craving" or "Summerfling" did from her original work or like "Till The Heart Caves In" or "Crying" from her covers, but it therefore produces a very mellow, easy listening CD.
Having not been familiar with all the songs beforehand I was able to judge each song on its merit and how they sounded to me fresh. In some ways it's probably an advantage having not heard the songs before.
How can you fault k.d.?? There is no one else around today with such a clear voice and beautiful way of singing.
From the lovely "Helpless" to "Hallelujah" and the wonderful "The Valley", this is a great collection of songs that k.d. has covered and interpreted nicely!
If you buy this album and do nothing but sit back and compare the songs with the original versions then you may not find it enjoyable, as I have heard a few people grumble about. All I can say is, take the album on its merit and let the relaxing overtones and sultry, perfect voice of k.d. take you on a journey through this lovely CD.
on 8 December 2008
I simply adore this album! Hymns Of The 49th Parallel, is one of my top 3 "must have" kd lang CDs, I would recommend for anyone's CD collection.
There are several tracks that stand out for me:
Cohen's "Hallelujah" - I had not heard this track before, and I have not heard a performance that equals kd's interpretation since - even from Cohen himself.
Mitchell's "A Case of You" - It is very hard to cover material by such a legendary artist as Joni Mitchell. However, kd manages to do so with such ease. It's breathtaking!
Siberry's "Love is everything" This is my favourite song on the album, it is such an emotional song. kd delivers here yet again, giving the listener the impression that there is a very strong connection between singer and song. Indeed, this is the overwhelming impression one gets, from the album as a whole.
on 9 November 2004
A beautiful, textured, life-soundtrack of an album. Interesting that she has moved within the Warner stable to a more, grown-up/arty label. k.d.'s voice is in fine form, and offers up simple but perfectly formed interpretations of some great songs - and it's good to have a covers album that has a theme that's strong enough to give interest, but loose enough to allow the singer freedom to move.
I do think that with the better known writers, it might have benefitted from some less obvious selections - with Leonard Cohen, for example, Bird on a Wire and Hallelujah are endlessly covered, where many of his great songs are neglected. Mitchell's Jericho is a perfect example of k.d. taking a lesser known song of great quality from an artist of stature, and making it her own.
on 16 March 2005
I first discovered KD Lang when I was travelling in Canada for the first time. Back then it was August, so 'Invincible Summer' by one of the best known Canadian singers was a perfect choice. That album is such a warm floating summer album that brings back great memories of Ontario and Quebec. I was very intrigued to hear 'Hymns Of The 49th Parallel', especially on the wrong side of the pond now, but right from the first play, it lifted me back to a cold and magical Canada. A great selection of tunes that fit perfectly together. A real headphones-on album!
on 28 June 2005
Something of a return to form for kd lang, this is her best since ingenue, or even her best to date. her voice and expression are fantastic, she is in excellent form, this is a moving album of songs from a diverse range of quality canadian songwriters, some well known, others less so.
Its an album that needs to be appreciated on a decent music system - at least some of the time - to appreciate the depth, feeling, and sheer musicianship. And yet, yes you can play it as background / easylistening while you get on with your day or if you are entertaining friends.
It's hard to pick a favourite, but for me After the goldrush, Valley, Helpless, and Love is Everything are the standout tracks.
Those reviewers who are weary of the nth cover version of hallelujah have a point - ys, k d lang could/should have chosen less familiar songs from leonard cohen's oeuvre - but hey it still sounds good.
5 stars ... and it deserves a far, far wider audience that it has had to date!