“SAVE ME” (WRITER: k.d. lang—BEN MINK)
ARTIST: k.d. lang
RELEASED 1992 ON INGENUE CD
k.d lang had pretty well established herself as a rogue country artist, a Big Boned Gal from Southern Alberta, by the late 1980s. With her group, the Reclines—named for lang’s obsession with Patsy Cline—she had shown a feel for hillbilly music, western swing, and ballads.
After three albums with the band, and one solo effort in which she worked with legendary country producer Owen Bradley, lang was ready to stretch out. Absolute Torch and Twang, her last project with the Reclines, came out in 1989. Her next album, Ingenue, came nearly three years later.
It was a stylistic departure if nothing else. This was an album of art songs arranged in a strange Chex Mix of 60s pop, exotica, and show music. Elements of torch and twang remained, but this time piano, vibraphone, woodwinds, interesting percussion instruments, and ambitious string arrangements pushed their way among the fiddles and steel guitars.
“Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine” got a lot of play as singles, and every track was its own universe—a little Greek exotica here, some MOR country there.
lang and Ben Mink, who collaborated on Torch and Twang, wrote nearly every song on Ingenue. With adventure in mind, they co-produced the album with drummer/engineer Greg Penny. In content and title, Ingenue wanted to be heard as a new thing, and the gamble paid off. Most of her core audience stayed, and by diversifying she picked up new followers. She had wandered from the trail and found her own way.
Ingenue featured several classic tracks. Opening the album is “Save Me,” a generous pour of languid lounge with touches of shimmery guitars and tanpura. Gary Burton’s vibraphone creates hazy clouds, and a woozy steel guitar floats through the sky. The tempo is slow-slow-slow, allowing lang to caress some complex lyrics through a rangy melody and still leave a ton of space. Her harmonies are stratospheric, too.
I’ll stop talking about it now!