Recommended Albums #56


k.d. lang: Ingénue (1992)

When my (former) wife and I married and combined households in the mid-1990’s my burgeoning CD collection merged with her one-and-only CD, k.d. lang’s Ingénue.

“You own one CD?”

I scoffed (silently, to myself). Then I gave her single CD a listen and scoffed no more, realizing it was a masterpiece and better than 90% of my collection.

Actually, it did take a few listens. Most of the album is downtempo and brooding. This isn’t exactly beach party music. It’s a song cycle of consonant tone, with one contemplative mood piece following the next until the perfectly-sequenced affair concludes with the cathartic “Constant Craving”, the album’s only “hit” and a song I used to try to irritate the wife by rendering as “Instant Gravy” (never worked).

Producer and co-writer Ben Mink created a chamber pop album of such meticulous craftsmanship and consummate taste it reminds me of Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom, to which the word “masterpiece” was affixed  on its release.

Mink places the subdued but compelling songs in elegantly adorned settings: strings, accordion, vibraphone, mandolin, slide guitar and many other instruments make their subtle way into a mix and bow out in turn, ensuring things never get tedious.

The songs are the best batch k.d. ever assembled on one LP. From this record on, one could hear echoes of Ingénue here and there on subsequent records, but never the consistent tone or quality of songs throughout an entire album.

Ingénue marked a transition from her early, rather hokey “cowgal” period into her art pop/torch singer incarnation. It’s a unique album in lang’s career and in all of pop music’s canon.

Incidentally, the Rolling Stones’ inadvertently appropriated the melody of “Instant Gravy” “Constant Craving” in their 1997 hit “Anybody Seen My Baby”. Quoting Wikipedia:

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song also carries writing credits for k.d. lang and Ben Mink.The song is known for its chorus, which sounds strikingly similar to lang’s 1992 hit song “Constant Craving“. Jagger and Richards claimed to have never heard the song before, only having discovered the similarity prior to the song’s release. As Richards writes in his autobiography Life, “My daughter Angela and her friend were at Redlands and I was playing the record and they start singing this totally different song over it. They were hearing k.d. Lang’s ‘Constant Craving.’ It was Angela and her friend that copped it.” The two gave lang credit, along with her co-writer Mink, to avoid any lawsuits. Afterwards, lang said she was “completely honored and flattered” by receiving the songwriting credit.

The similarity is clear to hear:

See also:

See also:

Listen to: “Miss Chatelaine”

Listen to: “Still Thrives This Love”

Listen to “Season of Hollow Soul”

Listen to: “Outside Myself”

Listen to: “Constant Craving”

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