k.d. lang

Live by Request

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Live by Request is a series of occasional television specials broadcast on the A&E cable network, conceived by Tony Bennett's son and manager Danny Bennett. It works well for musical artists with loyal followings and established catalogs who may no longer be at the forefront of the record industry but are anxious to promote new albums. Viewers and fellow celebrities call in carefully screened requests that allow the performers to revisit their old favorites and mix in some new ones. k.d. lang was a good choice for such a show, and here she becomes the first artist to use the Live by Request rubric for a corresponding album. lang usually makes concept albums with distinctive themes that can be quite different from each other stylistically and, of course, she moved toward an adult contemporary pop sound after beginning her career as a country singer, so her discography sometimes seems to be all over the map. By mixing songs from her different albums here, she is able to demonstrate the similarities in them, suggesting that the apparent diversity in her music is not as extreme as it might have seemed. Also, never having released a compilation, she compresses her catalog into an excellent introduction here. All that's missing is another important aspect of the Live by Request shows -- the spontaneous personal interaction they tend to provide between artist and audience. lang just goes from one song to another on the disc, never saying anything more elaborate than "Thank you so much" in between. No requests from fans are heard, no comments by the singer. In that sense, the album is just a straightforward (and somewhat cut and dried) live album, with none of the special flavor of the TV show.

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