For those uninitiated into the cult of k.d. lang, you might be wondering how a one-hit wonder from the early ’90s manages to sell out a 2,700-seat concert hall well over a month before show time. The two-fold answer lies in this brilliant performer’s unwavering moxie and the supernatural voice she commands with bewildering, effortless, and heart-wrenching precision.
First, the moxie: Despite an early career marked by growing critical acclaim and prestigious country music awards, lang ultimately acknowledged the industry had little regard for a gender-bending vegetarian with cropped hair, and promptly quit the repressive scene. Shortly after her departure from Nashville in 1992, when being gay in the pre-internet public sphere was almost exclusively attached to dying of AIDS and living in sin, lang unapologetically proclaimed she dug other women and instantly became an icon for queers around the globe.
This courageous revelation essentially coincided with the release of her album Ingénue—10 sultry tracks steeped in the unique timbres of lap steel guitar, accordion, vibraphone, and pizzicato strings, seductively fleshed out with gauzy lyrics of unrequited love and spiritual longing. Experienced a quarter-century later, the record (which lang once described as “post-nuclear cabaret”) retains its full power and will forever be intertwined with her trailblazing disclosure.
And that voice? Reminiscent of Wayne Newton, Dinah Washington, and Elvis, the vocal prowess that the gods have bestowed upon this particular human has inspired an expansive range of praise from hordes of music writers over the years. Adjectives have their limits, however, and k.d. lang effectively shatters their power, as will undoubtedly be the case once again during tonight’s concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ingénue. In a word, her voice is everything.