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Laurie Anderson's O Superman, her first, most famous and, indeed, only hit, was released in 1981, when Reagan had just swept to power and the American Empire was reaching something like its zenith, with the Cold War entering its final phases. Twenty-nine years later, and on Homeland Anderson seems fairly certain she's bearing witness to that crumbing, deluded and debt-ridden Empire's end.
That may sound a somewhat portentous subject, but in fact Anderson's whimsical sense of humour remains a constant, at times a little wearingly so. Then again, if you are essentially releasing an album about the credit crunch, it's probably best to try and sneak some chuckles in there. Certainly Homeland's catchiest track, the chattering techno pop of Only an Expert, succeeds as a brilliantly vicious satire of the hollowing out of the American Dream, managing to find a through thread between the Iraq War, the bail out of the US banks and the empty wisdom of Oprah Winfrey.
However, the album really does come into its own when Anderson allows herself to hit a more sombre note. Certainly the latter portions of the 11-and-a-half minute, pitch-shifted tour de force Another Day in America are extraordinary. Over a wraithlike keyboard figure, wreathed in wordless backing wails (courtesy of Antony Hegarty), ambient hiss, dissonant strings and trembles of keyboard she bids farewell to the junk and the glory of the 20th century, questioning "how do we begin again?", intoning, yearning, that "the reason I really love the stars, is that we cannot hurt them", before concluding, ominously: "but we are reaching for them".
To some extent Only an Expert and Another Day in America dominate Homeland to the point of slightly unbalancing it, the first catchy and pugnacious, the other epic and quotable. Yet the rest of the tracks don't really try and compete: elsewhere Homeland offers a more textural journey, populated by squalls of free jazz, melancholic knots of electronica, uncomfortable pauses and low, distorted vocals. There are still witticisms aplenty, but the overall effect is an air of creeping dread, the perfect soundtrack for a journey into America's night.
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Top Customer Reviews
It doesn't happen very often so it's time to put on our party hats!
Her last studio outing 'Life On A String' (2001) was a box brimming
over with wonders. 'Homeland' is no less so. It is a visionary work.
Her preoccupation with documenting her own complex emotional
reflections and responses to her country's heart and history is
born out of deep love and an indestructible sense of hopefulness.
(Her 1984 masterpiece 'United States Live' is another vivid
and stirring testimony of profound dedication to her muse).
Ms Anderson, despite her marriage to Lou Reed, doesn't make
rock and roll. (She does, however, have a creditable dalliance
with things-disco on 'Only an Expert'!)
These twelve compositions, together, create an extraordinary
sonic tapestry. The gentle, haunting, inimitable voice, sometimes
bleakly alone, sometimes gloriously multi-tracked; the plaintive
power of her electric violin, both a sword and a shield with the
power to sooth and heal or blister and burn are both present and
correct and uniquely affecting.
From the sublime opening track 'Transitory Life', with its
heart-rending ululating vocal by Aidysmaa Koshkendey slicing
the ether like a knife ; through the wry, pithy and hillarious
observations about contemporary American culture (the sub-prime
mortgage debacle comes in for a particularly potent bashing!)
of the aforementioned, dance-oriented, spectacle of 'Only An Expert'
(Mr Reed's rip-roaring guitar contribution makes the ground tremble
beneath our feet!Read more ›
The lyrics are like razors attached to mirrors for American culture and modern society in general. While it's been said this is an album about the credit crunch, yes It must have been a strong influence but there comments about a lot more flaws in our society than money. At time the Homeland can be hypnotic, disturbing, fearful but at the same time combined with humour and irony that keeps it enjoyable.
Not a party album but from experience people listening to "Only an Expert" enjoy the song and everyone grins or laughs at times.
This was the best concert I saw in 2008 and 2009 and despite a line in the performance "And CD's are available in the lobby at a very reasonable price" they weren't, and it originally intended for release in early 2009. Had to resort to some very dodgy things to get parts of this album from you tube but now it's here and have bought a couple of copies, one for me the other for my best m8 who still raves about it.
For me this is Laurie Anderson's best piece of work so far, and I've rated all her albums also I've seen a performance of Delusion on April 2010 but thought this was a progression of Homeland but did not reach it heights, but still go and see it if you have the chance.
Homeland is so moving and creative. Some of it does take a few listens to become a favorite track
such as 'Another day in America' while other tracks such as 'Transitory Life' and 'My right eye' are immediately great.
This for me is an album that gives me the 'tingles' down the spine. It wakes up my brain.
I'm so glad folks such as Laurie are still making such intelligent, moving and creative work.
This record is the latest installment of the answer to that question, which is a resounding "No".
Quite simply, if you don't like this, you deserve to go deaf.
P.S. Amazon's bloody awful downloader persistently refuses to download the accompanying digital booklet. So buy this album for the audio only.
Homeland did not immediately appeal to me at all, but has grown on me a fair amount after persevering. Although she is as intelligent and quirkily perceptive here as ever, the overall mood is a little too sombre for my taste (though not so much as in Life On A String or Bright Red perhaps). The darker thoughts and feelings were always there, woven into the fabric of her songs, but it was the light and warmth of the earlier work that allowed easier access to it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some good tracks , but haven't realy got into this album , if you like Laurie you will probably like this onePublished 3 months ago by B. Robinson
Thoroughly enjoyable. All you would expect from Laurie Anderson. Thoughtful, engaging, poetic, musical. Follows some of the themes and presentation methods seen in earlier work.Published on 28 July 2014 by PeterB
I haven't actually bought this yet, and clicked in here in preparation, but the recording I've been listening to at Anderson's website bears little relation to the music described... Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2012 by john gill
Well worth the long wait since her previous album. As original as always, musically itriqueing and good value. If you know and like her work, this will not disappoint.Published on 8 Jan. 2011 by Furneux Pelham fan