Laurie Anderson's new album, Homeland, was released in the US last week. Over the weekend, the Sunday New York Times featured a profile of Anderson and the album by Times writer Will Hermes, titled "Electronic Expressions in the Service of the Soul." Anderson and her husband, Lou Reed, a co-producer of Homeland, talk with the Times about the challenging task of creating the final album, her first in nearly a decade, from thousands of files she had recorded over the course of the project. Says Hermes: "Homeland may be the most frankly emotional record Ms. Anderson has ever made."
The article also looks at the impact Anderson's work, past and present, has had on other artists, including Antony Hegarty, who contributes vocals to the new album. "As an experimental pop pioneer Ms. Anderson is a model for young musicians," writes Hermes, "even if her themes can set her apart from art-rock’s new school."
"I think most young musicians are shying away from that kind of political, global perspective," Hegarty tells Hermes. "Their songs are like little gardens of the personal. People aren’t engaging in a wider dialogue about what we’re doing, and what our relationship is to this massive system that we’re part of. Laurie has always done that."
Read the complete article at nytimes.com.
Also this weekend, Anderson and the new album were featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. The show looks at Anderson's career, from her breakout success at the top of the UK pop charts with "O Superman," off Big Science, in 1981, to the release of her new album.
"Over the years, Laurie Anderson's stage appearances have become the stuff of legend, combining vocals, violin and electronics with film, video and visuals," says the show's host, Scott Simon. "In her career spanning more than three decades, she's established herself as a composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker and touring musician."
On the program, Anderson discusses the new album, giving further insight into its title; the track "Only an Expert" (which Simon reveals to be "my favorite cut, if I might nominate it as such"); and the appearance on the album (and its cover) of her male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot, who is also featured in a series of videos at nonesuch.com/media.
You can listen to the entire segment, which includes several clips from Homeland, at npr.org.
In the UK, where Homeland is out today, the Financial Times gives the album four stars and says it packs "considerable power." Reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney says, "Coolly delivered semi-spoken lyrics are interspersed with mournful passages of singing, ritualistic in their beauty on 'Transitory Life,' while the music has a sombre pulse. The exception is 'Only an Expert,' a superb satire on managerialism featuring urgent electronic beats from Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden and distressed guitar feedback played by Reed." Read the complete review at ft.com.
Metro gives the album four stars as well. "Anderson’s cuttingly funny spoken vocals accompany music that is Eastern-inflected and unusually clubby," writes reviewer Arwa Haider. "These are unsettling visions, from 'Only an Expert'’s landscape of warfare and financial crises to 'Another Day In America,' yet they’re also vital and mesmerising; there’s no place like Homeland." Read more at metro.co.uk.
In Ireland, the Irish Times also gives the album four stars."Fusing constituent parts into seamless entities is just one of Anderson's marvellous sleights of hand here," writes reviewer Tony Clayton-Lea. "The really good thing is that Anderson sounds connected, wired in. Often regarded as dispassionate and distanced, here she flows just as elegantly as most of the music, which is equal parts Twin Peaks left-of- field and thoroughly on-the-money electronica." Read more at irishtimes.com.
Another four-star review comes from the Irish Independent. Reviewer John Meagher, too, cites the "haunting" track "Transitory Life," exclaiming: "It's unlike anything else you will hear this year." For any wary readers, Meagher says "it may surprise some how engaging and accessible much of this album is." Read the review at independent.ie.
Paper magazine asserts that "Anderson has been pushing the envelope since Lady Gaga was in diapers." Reviewer Nik Mercer describes the new album as "a heady mix of throat singing, electronica and spoken word--all garnished with references to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and cameos by Anderson's male alter ego, Fenway Bergamot." Read more at papermag.com.
To pick up a copy of the Homeland CD/DVD, with instant downloads of high-quality MP3s included at no additional cost, head to the Nonesuch Store.