Hymns of the 49th Parallel fulfills k.d. lang?s longstanding desire to create a Canadian songbook. On the album, her first for Nonesuch Records, she pays homage to fellow Canadian artists including Joni Mitchell, Leonard C... more »ohen, Neil Young, Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith, and Bruce Cockburn.« less
Hymns of the 49th Parallel fulfills k.d. lang?s longstanding desire to create a Canadian songbook. On the album, her first for Nonesuch Records, she pays homage to fellow Canadian artists including Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Jane Siberry, Ron Sexsmith, and Bruce Cockburn.
Mary Z. from SIOUX CITY, IA Reviewed on 10/11/2010...
Hauntingly beautiful. Olympics fans will love Hallelujah. As a northerner myself, it strikes an inner chord.
A compelling voice paying quiet tribute to her culture
Texas Brian | Austin, TX United States | 08/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The first rule of reviewing is, you have to let something be what it wants to be.
With that said, k.d. lang has released a career milestone with Hymns Of The 49th Parallel. After touring with Tony Bennett doing Louis Armstrong-based covers from an American songbook, k.d.'s idea was to get in touch with her Canadian roots by covering songs from Canadian songwirters.
The result is an intimate and warm record perfect for quiet reflection. Like the citizens of that country, the music is powerful but extremely understated, incisive and brilliant. From Neil Young to Leonard Cohen to Joni Mitchell to the vastly-underrated Jane Siberry, lang's voice provides a soothing glimpse into the stillness of the Great North.
There have been two major complaints: 1) "This CD is boring," and 2) "Why did she cover THIS song? She should have covered this one!"
This is a very mellow, muted disc, designed to be a gentle acoustic recording. it makes for a great listening experience, but for the listener looking for a Top 40 hit, it's not here. What is here are her flawless vocals and sparse arrangements like your own private sessions in her living room. (You have to let the disc be what IT wants to be.)
Finally, lang chose the songs from her compatriots based on what she connected to. This isn't supposed to be an Encylcopedia Brittanica of Canadian songwriting, and to expect that is shallow. What lang has done is to seek out outstanding lyrics and melodies that share common themes -- love and nature -- that speak to her and allow her to express them. (You have to let the disc be what IT wants to be.)
This is a disc for a) k.d. lang fans, and b) anyone who wants a silky voice gently giving life to songs of depth and meaning. "Hits" fans beware.
An excellent work by Lang
R. D. Waters | Newton, NC United States | 09/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Over the years I have found a certain special connection with particular k. d. Lang recordings. "Ingénue" and "Drag" in particular come to mind. They are works made up of carefully selected songs that make up a greater whole. For me "Hymns of the 49th Parallel" falls into the same category. It is a stunning work from beginning to end.
Jane Siberry's "The Valley" is probably my personal favorite. While Siberry's own recording is amazing, Lang's big-boned-gal voice gives "The Valley" an additional anthem-like boost. The chorus haunts me daily as I walk through the office halls or get into my car. It is moving and powerful.
Lang's take on Joni Mitchell's two classics, "A Case of You" and "Jericho", are also exceptional. The choice of "A Case of You" in particular was appropriate. Mitchell's song about her birthplace of Canada fits beautifully into Lang's collection of songs by Canadian artists. "Jericho", my personal favorite from "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter", is another standout. Lang handles Mitchell's bittersweet lyrics carefully and confidently. The song positively soars and I can promise the stereo volume always gets turned up in our house when this track starts.
When I first saw Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" listed on the CD jacket, I thought, "Oh, no, not another cover of that song!" Who can count the number of cover versions of this classic Cohen song? Regardless, Lang makes her own memorable contribution. Another outstanding cover is her version of Cohen's "Hallelujah".
There is no song on this collection that I do not like in one way or another. It is the recording as a whole that makes this CD worth owning. Much thought on song selection and excellent musicianship went into "Hymns of the 49th Parallel". Lang has never sounded better."
Subtle, Complex, Bracing...
Pen Name | Ireland | 12/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The cover-image of this CD is a photograph of a snowy Winter scene. It's an appropriate image, for the music on this CD is as subtle and complex as a snowflake, and just as bracing when it hits the right spot.
I'm listening to the CD as I'm typing this review, and am amazed how, once again, it is a different track to that of previous listens that leaves me breathless this time. This album is the dictionary definition of a 'grower', and every listen offers something newly arresting and alluring. It keeps calling you back, and, despite initial ambivalence, you keep being glad you go back. I wasn't at all sure about this CD when I first got it, but I'll happily end 2004 declaring it my album of the year.
Disregard the comments on here that complain about some of the song choices being obvious - there is nothing obvious about this album. The choice of songs is impeccable, with each song being invested with an emotional quality that evokes all that was good about the original recording, yet investing it with something more. I'm not sure how to express what that "more" is - but it's a combination of emotion, realness, and authenticity, so striking that it keeps pulling you up short. This album is in an entirely different league to the (frequently justifiably) much maligned 'covers album'. On the back of kd lang's versions of these songs I have revisited my old Leonard Cohen, Ron Sexsmith, and Joni Mitchell albums, and bought new Jane Siberry and Neil Young CDs - and it's remarkable that I prefer the versions here. That *is* a compliment. This woman isn't covering these songs, she's (re)interpreting them. Volume II must, surely, be forthcoming?
This album asks for your time, and it deserves your time. It doesn't reveal its emotion readily, or give up its heart easily, but when it does - and it will - you'll be glad you trusted it.
"So take a lesson from the strangeness you feel...", indeed."
Ethereal and longing
kd fan | Los Angeles, CA | 02/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The beauty of this album is it's sparseness. I can not convey enough how risky and brilliant this is. From obscure tracks like Fallen to the more familiar (Case of You, Hallelujah) she studies the song and plants her thumb firmly on the core. And not in a "studied" way, but in a literate, passionate, loving way. To say she takes Case of You to astral heights is not granting it full due. I have never heard a Joni Mitchell cover taken so gently in one's hands, yet experienced so fully. Her voice was made for songs such as these.
And I can not serve Love is Everything properly, you simply must hear it's melancholic words and her treatment to know what that heartbreak feels like.
This album touches me in ways, subtle, longing, and sweet that few albums have. And k.d. deserves much credit for challenging herself and her audience with such art."