By James Barker, Staff Writer
With Pride month just days away, k.d. lang has given us the perfect gift to get into the spirit of the season. makeover is a compilation of dance remixes of some of lang’s most recognized songs recorded between 1992 and 2000. (The album cover features a previously unseen portrait of lang by David LaChapelle in 1995.) Speaking about the reason for releasing this album now, lang said:
“I had the idea of putting together a dance remix compilation, as I mused about how we built community in those days before the internet, mobile devices, and dating apps. Those dance clubs were a key to a world, which was still called ‘underground’ in the ’90s. I also surprised myself by finding that there was a cryptic, sort of secret zone in my career, that hadn’t been explored, overlooked even by me. Two of these tracks had even hit #1 on the dance charts!”
This album could not have come at a better time. Lang is looking back on communities in the 1990s, just as we’re slowly surfacing from a pandemic where we’ve had to form communities and connect with one another in a completely different way . In the same way that queer communities are important to be remembered, now seems a particularly poignant time to reflect on where we’ve been and what queer community means for us in 2021.
The success of this compilation is down to knowing where the remix can add textures to the studio recordings, and where to let lang’s voice shine. The more extended remixes appear near the end of the album, whereas the earlier remixes work more to complement lang’s voice.
The Junior Vasquez remix of “Valley of the Dolls” has lang’s voice acapella before its understated remix kicks in, that remains careful to support and not overshadow lang’s beautiful voice that has a crooning torch-song quality to it. This is perhaps the finest vocal performance on the album.
lang’s voice shines throughout, including on the album opener, the Club Xanax remix of “Lifted by Love”. In other places, particularly in the more extended remixes, lang’s voice does fall to the background. “Sexuality” shimmers in its two remixes on this collection, with the Tony Maserati showcasing Lang’s voice, whereas the DJ Krush mix uses her voice more for texture creating a more ambient sonic experience.
Other highlights include the Love to Infinity remix of “The Consequences of Falling” that packs a powerful pop punch, showing how versatile an artist lang has always been. “Miss Chatelaine” from her genre-smashing 1992 album Ingénue is just as dreamy and majestic as the original, but this St. Tropez Mix gives the song an added oomph to make even long-time fans rediscover the song all over again.
As the ultimate queer country icon, makeover is the perfect album to document lang’s impact on pop music, and not least queer country history. 90s dance and club cultures may not often be spoken about in relation to country music, but they have always overlapped. This pride month is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the huge talent that is k.d. lang.