Neko Case, K.D. Lang & Laura Veirs: Case/Lang/Veirs (2016)

"Supergroups" can be a risky thing, sometimes coming across like disparate individual artists who happen to be playing together for a one-off novelty gig, often using material they deemed not up to par for their primary gigs.  This album is an exception, and in a big way.  It's one of the most shockingly beautiful albums of recent years, cosmic Americana torch songs ideal for late night romance and film noir soundtracks.

Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs all have distinctive (and gorgeous) voices and styles (with some obvious commonalities), but here come across like a long-running functioning band, as much a sister act as the Roches or Haim.  Sure, they each step up to the mic for solo leads, giving the otherwise consistent sound of the disc some helpful variety, but they never sound like they're recording snippets for a solo album.  This is aided somewhat by the shared harmonizing on most tracks, as well as a gorgeous ambient instrumental motif that backs the majority of the songs.

Opening track "Atomic Number" sets the stage, and it's absolutely drop-dead stunning; it's a Neko showcase, but all three vocalists lend their voices to chilling effect.  It's followed by the Lang-helmed smoky torch song "Honey And Smoke," and two tracks in it's evident this is a serious piece of work, not the artists' throwaways.  You've got the amazing "Song For Judee," a folkier Veirs tune about the troubled but wonderful folk singer Judee Sill, and holy-shit beautiful "Greens of June" and, damn, it's just all so good.

The only time they stray from the nighttime ambient vibe is on "Best Kept Secret," an upbeat, jangly pop number with a catchy chorus, but it's hard to fault them for breaking the mood for a moment when the song is this great.  (Similarly, closing track "Georgia Stars" is rootsier, more rock-ish track than much of the album, but, again, their vocal work is a sheer delight.)

Honestly, I can't say enough about this album.  I love Case as a solo artist (and of course with the New Pornographers, and, frankly, I'd listen to Neko sing the phone book); I have a number of Lang and Veirs albums and enjoy them quite a bit (among other things, I love Lang's take on Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and Veirs' run through the Dead's "Mountains of the Moon").  But I enjoy this at least as much if not more than pretty much anything the three have recorded on their own.

Here's a little animated video for "Atomic Number":
And if you've got the time, here's an entire live show.  Look, just make the time.  It's absolutely phenomenal.  Those voices...