Laurie Anderson's "Homeland," Her First Studio Album in Nearly Ten Years, to Be Released by Nonesuch June 15
Calling Laurie Anderson “the most important multimedia artist of our time,” the Los Angeles Times recently noted the “rare, profound maturity” of her latest songs. Thirty years into her recording career—in which she has simultaneously remained busy as a visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker and internationally touring live performer—she has applied her craft to a new studio album, her first in ten years. The collection of songs is at once personal and political, equally focused on love and American identity. Nonesuch Records will release the album, entitled Homeland, on June 15. Details of an exclusive Nonesuch Store bundle pre-order are coming soon.
Homeland is produced by Anderson with Lou Reed and Roma Baran, and engineered by Anderson, Pat Dillett, Mario McNulty, and Marc Urselli. The music is instantly recognizable as Anderson’s, though it draws on a broad scope of styles: She sings throughout and plays newly developed sounds on violin, as well as contributing keyboards and percussion. Her vocals are often mediated by the vocal filter she long ago invented to perform her signature “audio drag,” this time voicing Fenway Bergamot, the male alter-ego who appears on the album’s cover and narrates the song “Another Day in America.”
On Homeland, Anderson is joined by a diversity of collaborators, from the Tuvan throat singers and igil players of Chirgilchin to New York experimental jazz and rock players including Rob Burger (keyboards), Omar Hakim (drums), Kieran Hebden of Four Tet (keyboards), Shahzad Ismaily (percussion) Eyvind Kang (viola), Peter Scherer (keyboards), Skuli Sverrisson (bass), Ben Witman (percussion and drums) and John Zorn (saxophone). Antony Hegarty contributes additional vocals.
Homeland is Anderson’s first studio album since Life on a String (2001), which prompted the New York Times to say, “Any pop performer—Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith—would be proud to tell a story so vividly.” Underscoring the unique art-music nexus Anderson occupies, that review also quoted the art critic RoseLee Goldberg’s suggestion that “Anderson has by now entered the pantheon of late-20th-century American artists, joining such figures as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.”
The essential Americanness of Anderson’s work is epitomized by Homeland. The new songs touch upon US foreign policy, torture, economic collapse, the erosion of personal freedom, medical malpractice, religion and cynicism. In this sense they echo Anderson’s early landmarks, especially her politically charged multimedia piece United States I—IV. In form as well as subject matter, there are also resonances of Anderson’s seminal album Big Science, which Nonesuch reissued in 2007.
The songs comprising Homeland were developed over two years on the road, while Anderson was touring an intimate, constantly evolving live show of the same name. In a four-star review of the concert at the Barbican Centre, The Times of London called it “a passionate and erudite work whose references range from Thomas Paine and Kierkegaard to Aristophanes and Oprah Winfrey.” The Guardian called Homeland “her finest show in more than a decade,” adding, “It also represents some of the most purely beautiful music she has ever made.”
Over the course of 2010, Anderson has a number of major live engagements, including a new multimedia performance, Delusion. She and Lou Reed are curating the Vivid Live Festival, which will bring two weeks of programming (May 28—June 11) to Sydney Opera House. Additionally, she, Reed and John Zorn will perform their Improvisations show in select cities around the world. She is also preparing a major retrospective of her visual work that will open in São Paulo in August 2010 and a book of her stories that will be published in 2011. For information on Anderson's upcoming performances, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.